An Ignatian Experience

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From September to May once a week for 75 minutes, I participated in the 19th annotation of St. Ignatius Spiritual Exercises. I participated in a group that turned out to be all women of varying ages and lifestyles. Once a week for months we climbed the stairs to a small room where we sat and shared our journeys and our deep longing for a closer relationship to Godde.

We engaged in examining prayer, lectio divina, gospel contemplations, colloquies, double and triple colloquies, application of the senses and journaling. I think perhaps the most vital piece of all of it was coming together to reveal each week what had happened – or in some cases – not happened- that week. Listening to the stories of others and gleaning their spiritual desires, sharing their life’s joy, pain,challenges and successes while also revealing and sharing my own, generated a sense of connectedness that was unitive.

I have come to really believe that what made this particular experience unitive was the spirit of honesty and vulnerability that surrounded our personal revelations and the ensuing personal exposure. There was at the heart of this, a true risk to become that was an authentic and mutual desire, which uniquely and collectively enriched and furthered us.

As we concluded, we opted to meet for coffee – albeit less frequently – to continue our sense of connectedness. We shared personally how we had grown and we reflected back how we saw growth in each other. I think we all left with a deep sense of appreciation and a smaller sense of loss as we let go.

I will be continuing many of the exercises we used in the course. And I re-emerge into my life with a deeper sense of a spiritual call to action. I will seek new ways to fulfill that call and to bring this sense of connectedness and be-ing in unitive community to my life’s work.

To Evolve

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“Yesterday I was clever and tried to change the world. Today I am wise and try to change myself.”  Rumi

Truer words have rarely been spoken.  A career in education working as a change agent schooled me well in learning that all I can actually change in the world is myself. This is a difficult life lesson and one I am working to really live. Setting aside the push and pull of the personal ego long enough to meet the inner humility I need to grasp this, is a constant exercise. Through some inward grace, I begin to experience the freedom inherent in seeing change through this lens. I have small moments that teach me anew how central this attitude is to an awareness from the heart.

Most recently, I had a small exchange in the grocery store that taught me again. I commented to the check out clerk that the sun was shining and it was glorious with no sign of the forecasted rain. The clerk shared that she longed for the rain to relieve her allergies to the dreadful pollen. Apparently, other medications she requires prevent her being able to seek  relief through allergy medication. As I left, I said that I too would now hope the rain would come and that when it did, I would think of her and smile.

In that little moment, I was able to see the beauty of a potential rain and to value it. I was granted a new perspective on the day and offered a chance to change my attitude out of compassion for another.

I evolve in really miniscule ways and my willingness to change through love and compassion guide me in shifting my perspective and attitude; and from there, myself – the only thing I truly can change.