Considering the historical context for monasticism and the rigors of spiritual life in community, the vow of stability is genius. It means promising to grow where one is planted; not bolting when the spiritual going gets tough. And the spiritual going will get tough -- that's what happens whenever we embark on a spiritual journey.
Monastic communities IRL handle members' spiritual sturm und drang in very practical ways like changing work and prayer assignments; meeting as a community to minister to disaffected members; and providing one-to-one spiritual direction.
Optimally, when someone decides or is asked to leave, the community acknowledges that loss in some way. Really healthy communities recognize that some members will feel feelings that include but are not limited to grief and minister to members who may feel confused, abandoned, or angry.
So what happens when someone leaves a virtual abbey? We're figuring that out.
Given the fluid and transient nature of 21st century life in general and social media in particular, you'd think it would be no big whoop when someone drops out of @Virtual_Abbey's Prayer Team. But as I've often said elsewhere, virtual community is real community and this includes what happens with and to a virtual community when key people leave.
Now into our fourth year, we're learning how to embrace the reality of changing lives and changing commitments. Some who were key participants when Raima Larter (@RaimaLarter) started this ministry have virtually disappeared. Others have taken a spiritual time-out and then come back. We've become somewhat quicker to recognize and do something about burn-out among members of our Prayer Team. And wiser about both reaching out and letting go.
Truly this well-known passage from Ecclesiastes is wisdom eternal: to everything there is a season (Eccl. 3:1). And I, for one, derive great comfort from St. Teresa of Avila's reminder:
Let nothing disturb you;
nothing frighten you.
All things are passing.
God never changes.