Obedience is one of the vows one who is trying to walk a Benedictine path must be willing to take. The word can be intimidating until we realize that the root of the word is obaudiens, to listen with intention. Such listening is a practice that is often not done well in our noisy competitive society. Yet, if our families and communities are going to healthy, we must indeed listen and hear how God is speaking to us, and how God may be speaking through others. That brings up another scary word - submission.
Submission, in a healthy environment (where the intent is cooperation, not domination) means to yield, accept, or make room for other's opinions. In one of the essays included in Called to Community (edited by Charles E. Moore), John F. Alexander offers the following explanation:
Submission means knowing you don't know everything. It means knowing that the people of God gathered know more than you do by yourself. It means being willing to listen with an open heart when the body has the audacity to differ with your views. It means being willing pretty often to try out others' views for a while to see if maybe you're the one that's confused...
That's all submission is - rejoicing that someone is wiser than us, that there are others whom we can respect. That frees us to rejoice that we don't have to know everything ourselves - betting that others know something too. It's a spirit, an attitude. Out of which grow unity and wisdom...
When we submit an application, we fill out the appropriate forms, and we release those forms to another. When the send button is pressed, when the envelope is mailed, when the phone call is ended, there is a period of waiting. Things are usually at that point completely out of our hands. This is what I am now calling "the conversion to vulnerability" - those times when we actually begin to live into the realization that we must let God be God, and no amount of cajoling or pleading our cause can change things. Hopefully, in those times, we can tune our ears and hearts, and simply wait.
For I know this that I shall see your goodness in a living land.
The path you set me on leads to a place alive with you.
So whether here or there I shall remain in readiness for you.
I shall await your every move.
Take courage in God's presence, O my soul,
wait patiently, yes, wait for God.