Common Listening

Last Thursday’s Chapter reading of the Rule of Benedict began the chapter on Obedience, and for some this is a fraught word. “Obedience,” however, is not simply a matter of some persons being subject to some other persons; it is a deep mutual listening for the will of God. That is, each of us is listening together for how the love and truth and justice—the rightness that God is—is to be made concrete in our world.

This responsive listening, this obedience, is at home and operative across all areas of our lives, personal and communal. It is one of the things we share in common, and one which deepens our capacity to live in common, present to and respectful of each other. As we know from other chapters of the RB, notably that regarding the Cellarer, all of life has the potential to become a venue for responding “Here I am.”

One of the main reasons we live by a horarium and do the same things at the same time day in and day out is so that a great deal of this listening obedient response on the surface of our lives becomes second nature. “Here I am,” as an ability to be present, aware, and responsive, versus simply reactive, becomes the default mode of life. This in turn makes room and freedom to listen carefully to the voice of God calling to us in the furthest reaches of our being, and in all the as-yet-unknown reaches of our common life.

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