I am taking classes at The Charlotte Spirituality Center to become certified as a Spiritual Director. Part of this prodigious experience has informed me about the life and work of St. Ignatius of Loyola. He is attractive to me because the core of his belief system is that God is in everything. I think Ignatius earned his strips as a mystic for more than this idea. He didn't start out so deep or in tune. He ran the gamete in his life; he was part of a royal court system, a solider then a terribly wounded solider, a romantic, a priest, a prideful aspirer of greatness, and a humble reflector of God's presence. He wanted to become a Saint. It tickles me to think that is something you could aspire to and actually achieve.
|A Quiet Place at Angkor Wat, Cambodia|
When Ignatius would discern he paid attention to not just his thoughts but the emotional and physical reactions of his body. He considered what was stirring in his whole being throughout the day and noted these outcomes. Does God guide us through our physical bodies a well as our emotional ones? He believed God was. One of the results of his time in reflection was the Prayer of Examen.
Our class has been asked to journal everyday in the form of Ignatius's prayer. Its a really simple thing to do. At the end of the day, I like to light a candle and find a quiet place to be alone and reflect on these five ideas:
1. Become aware of God's presence.
2. Review the day with gratitude.
3. Pay attention to your emotions.
4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
5. Look toward tomorrow.
Credit to Christine
I've become very aware that I am learning to tune my mind to not just my thoughts but to my heart, my emotions and even my physical body. Reflecting on an event from the day and realizing that I was really anxious during that conversation or that I was moved to tears when someone told me that news, makes me pause and consider why. In digging a little deeper into my own reactions, I am learning a little more about my own heart. In learning a little more about my own heart, I think I am finding out more about the heart of God. Ignatius believed that God enters our hearts through our deepest desires and it is in those desires that we can become unified to His bigger plan for this created world.
In his book, "Here's My Hand, Here's My Heart" William Barry suggests that people make their lives very small in order to control them. Practicing the daily Examen as Ignatius recommends has helped me begin to the see walls I've built around my own potential. What if my life could be larger than this? What if there is more?