Yesterday’s reflection pushed the notion of obedience further – and in particular obedience to the prioress or abbot (p. 68). Joan Chittister writes that such obedience means hearing “the voice of God in one another – in the members of the community, both young and old; in the person we married and all of whose aphorisms we know by now; in underlings and children; in old parents and boring in-laws”.
Alan wrote last week about the danger of being obedient to another human being ( you can read his comment here) -and I am inclined to agree. But when the reflection broadens it to other members of the community, then I am more comfortable with the notion.
Or am I? It is one thing to believe G-d speaks to others in the community. That’s one of the things I have come to most appreciate about St. Bede’s – the idea that all of us are each listening and responding to G-d. But I don’t know that I am willing to obey someone else’s discernment!
I know, I know – I have vowed obedience to my bishop. And I continue to believe that is a good and necessary discipline. And yet, if there was something I felt strongly about, I would first argue the point, and if he/she remained adament, then I would resign my orders rather than do something I felt was contrary to G-d’s will.
And surely that is partly the point of all the emphasis on obedience. It isn’t a moral value no matter what. It is instead an essential component to being part of a community, whether that’s the monastery or the diocese. And when we can no longer be obedient, then we move ourselves outside the community.
What do you think? Does that make sense? Is that something you can agree with – or does it still leave you uncomfortable? And is this a trait that needs to be true of all communities? Or only certain ones?