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The Vow of Stability.



I'm a writer, author, and online educator who loves helping others build intentional lives through the power of habit and meaningful routines.







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Last week during one of my quiet times, I read about the vows that monks take as they enter the monastery.

A vow of chastity. A vow of obedience. A vow of poverty.

There’s a fourth vow, not as widely known: a vow of stability. 

Something struck me about the vow of stability and hurdled me into a black hole of Googling to learn more. 


Thomas Merton, an American Trappist monk and great theologian, wrote, “By making a vow of stability, the monk renounces the vain hope of wandering off to find a ‘perfect monastery.’ This implies a deep act of faith: recognizing that it does not matter where we are or whom we live with. …All monasteries are more or less ordinary.… Its ordinariness is one of its greatest blessings.”

This vow means a monk is staying and isn’t going to another monastery unless he is sent there by a superior. 

In Beyond the Walls: Monastic Wisdom for Everyday Life, Paul Wilkes writes of the vow, “It was a commitment to trust in God’s goodness – that he was indeed there, in that very place; and that holiness, happiness, and human fulfillment were to be found, not tomorrow or over the hill, but here – today.”

I’m obviously not joining a monastery, but something about the vow of stability drew me in.

I carry the thought around with me all day. At other lulls in the day, I stop and think about this idea of stability and what it means for me and my life. 

It’s so easy to be somewhere else… to escape the present moment for something that seems more glamorous or cool. It’s far too easy to tune out the here and now by way of our phones. One click, and we are somewhere else digesting someone else’s life.

The vow of stability is a commitment to something which is maddeningly simple yet impossibly hard in today’s culture: a commitment to being exactly where your feet are.


Be where your feet are– even when it’s hard.

Be where your feet are– even when you wish it could be different.

Be where your feet are– even when hope feels bleak.

Be where your feet are– content in the mundane and the ordinary. 

The mundane and the ordinary– I think that’s where the beauty of real-life hides out in plain sight. Social media would have us believe that our lives must be pulsing and buzzing with updates at all times, but the rhythms of everyday life are rarely packed with pomp and circumstance. 

A vow of stability. A recommissioning to the work of right here, right now. 

I think, what would that look like for me? For my little family? For all of us? How could we get closer to that in a post- COVID world? 

I think the vow of stability is just a beautiful concept to think about. I didn’t want to show up here and muddy the idea with too many words. I simply wanted to tell you about it if you’d never heard of it before. Or remind you of it if you had.

I don’t know the first step towards this great and holy kind of stability, but I’ll start where I typically start all things: with prayer.

I scripted this prayer as I mulled over the idea of stability. You can take it as your own:

Dear God, sometimes a commitment to everyday life is so hard. I want momentum. And yet you call me to embrace the ordinary, even when I don’t want to. Please show me how to find you in the ordinary. Help me to fall in love with the rhythms of everyday life. Teach me to uncover miracles within the mundane. I know you’re already at work– give me eyes to see you working.

I’d love to hear from you:

In moving my blog to a newer platform, I sadly had to let go of the thousands of comments and conversations that came from readers over the last 10+ years. This grieves me deeply but I know there will new conversations, fresh words of wisdom, and opportunities to create close community once again. I’d love to hear from you in the comments section. I’ll be reading + replying on a regular basis.


  1. Jody says:

    I find it interesting that the first thing I chose to read on your new home on the internet are these thoughts on stability. Stability in a new place, a new part of the story… I’m feeling that today because I just made my first internet home last month. So many little pieces for me to learn. So many ways to fear I’m doing it wrong as I try to figure out this new neighborhood and serve my neighbors well.

    I’ll be pondering this vow of stability, paying attention to where my feet are as I make my first shaky steps. Thank you for your work of sharing these thoughts in your own new beautiful space.

    Welcome to the neighborhood.

    • Hi Jody! I just got the chance to stop by your home and it’s absolutely lovely!! So clear + the perfect space to welcome people in. Don’t worry about making the wrong steps. Just make steps. Intentional steps. You’ll figure it out as you go. But showing up consistently is the key! You’ve got this!

  2. Louise says:

    This is the blog post I come back to, again and again. It features at the top of the whiteboard in my office – just a little box with the word MONKS and HB written underneath, as a reminder to be where my feet are when things are feeling tough, when somewhere else might be more attractive. Thank you Hannah.

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Hi, I'm Hannah

I love writing about all things faith, mental health, discipline + and motherhood. Let's be penpals!


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