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Reflections on Obedience

June 25, 2009

How do we obey God? I’ve never been a fan of that word, obey or obedience. I like to envision myself as somewhat of a rebel. I am the fourth of seven children, the first girl. As a teenager I did not like the fact that there were different rules for me and my older brothers. But I suspect that obeying God has little to do with rules. I have been tempted to equate obedience with duty and then I read something written by Liberation theologian, Gustavo Gutierrez, for a Spirituality class that caused me to rethink that idea. Gutierrez said that duty has a ceiling. Once the obligation is satisfied, the duty ends. I think obeying God is limitless, it has no end. For me, obeying God is more about doing God’s will, listening for God’s call and overcoming fear, to follow where the Holy Spirit is leading me.

My participation in an immersion trip to Jamaica is just one example of that.

I had a class from 7-9 PM on Weds. night in the fall semester. One night around mid semester, someone handed out flyers which said that there were still spaces available for a semester break, immersion trip to Jamaica. I stuck it in my back pack. The next week one of my classmates said she had called to get information and she was interested in going but worried about the fundraising. The professor heard us talking and said, “I think you should both go on the trip.” A million thoughts started swirling around in my head. Me? Fifty something, wife of 26 years, mother of two college age daughters, I should leave my family for a week and go to Jamaica? The next day I called the number on the flyer. I got all the details of when the meetings and fundraisers were. I started talking to my family. “I’m thinking about going to Jamaica for a week for school.” My daughters thought it was a great idea. My husband was somewhat non-committal at first but after I made the decision to go, he was very supportive.

In addition, I belong to a very vibrant parish community that supported me both financially and spiritually, before the trip and afterward. Would it have been easier to ignore the gentle prompting of the Spirit? Yes. Have I ignored other promptings? Yes, usually out of fear. I have discovered though, that being part of a loving and supportive community makes it much easier to move beyond the fear. My week in Jamaica was filled with the Holy Spirit. The experience was, for me, a gift that keeps on giving as its meaning in my life continues to deepen and grow, even now, two years later.

Christine Gagne, Commission Member
Currently employed by The Sisters of Notre Dame as a Community Coordinator in their assisted living facility, Notre Dame du Lac in Worcester, MA

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