Monday, February 10, 2020

Wisdom Looking Back

Wisdom helps us discover a reflective life 
The right words are not always appropriate. Ecclesiastes 3 indicates "a time for every matter under heaven... a time to keep silence and a time to speak." In John's Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples,  "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now." There are some things we're incapable of understanding when we first hear them. Our life experience may be so thin, or we may be so preoccupied, that we don't know hard-won wisdom when we see it. 

Which brings me to the wisdom of my Mother, who often advised me, "Don't take yourself so seriously." That advice was not easy to hear when I was younger and taking on life-changing responsibilities: finishing education while pastoring a church, becoming a husband and parent, caring for elders, growing as a minister, buying and maintaining a house, etc.! 

Through God's gift of memory, I can now appreciate the counsel to be less solemn and serious. It's taken years, but I'm  learning that, since many things are out of my control (that includes the choices of others!), I can focus on what is in my power to do, here and now. And, I can occasionally smile. 

Just when we need it, we can really benefit from the wisdom that's been there all along. Someone spoke it into our lives at one time and it's there for the taking, all these years later.   

Sunday, February 2, 2020

On the Ignatian Way: A Pilgrimage in the Footsteps of Saint Ignatius of Loyola (2018)

Learn from St. Ignatius' hard won wisdom
Where to start, then? With this extraordinary pilgrimage, which was at once unbearable, delightful, challenging, painful, desperate, liberating, enlightening, sad, desolate, enriching, peaceful, agitating, tumultuous, and occasionally chaotic, but on which I learned inevitably to open myself and accept the love and the forgiveness of God and to give love in return. I experienced the freedom that comes with the simplest of human knowledge, which is to feel loved, even in our insignificance, by the greatest of all forces and loves..." --Gilliam McIlwain in Iriberri and Lowney, On the Ignatian Way:A Pilgrimage in the Footsteps of Saint Ignatius Loyola.

This edition is a fascinating compilation of the accounts of contemporary pilgrims on the Ignatian Way, roughly a 250 mile journey from Loyola to Manresa, Spain. It captured my attention even from the bookstore shelf. Of course the attraction of such a volume is to read about the fruit of a pilgrimage without having to walk it. A deeper reading, though, provides a way to frame our lives without "leaving home." 

In On the Ignatian Way, we discover how Saint Ignatius'  first pilgrimage centuries ago forged the foundation of his distinct form of praying, his path to spiritual discernment; especially The Spiritual Exercises developed during his stay in Manresa. Readers benefit from a third person perspective: we read about other pilgrims who have chosen to walk with Ignatius, to see their journey informed by Ignatius' first journey. 

The book offers helpful historical information and frequent references to A Pilgrim's Journey: The Autobiography of Ignatius Loyola.  This is one the better invitations of the book: to delve into the primary source of a pilgrimage that transformed Christian Spirituality and thus, the world. Another practical benefit of On the Way is found in Part III: "The Spiritual Exercises for the Pilgrim," a thirty day journey. A bibliography is included for further study.

This edition is best read unhurriedly. It's a good example that reading thoughtfully and reflectively can deepen our communion with God, and can prove to be an important spiritual discipline. Thanks to the editors and pilgrims for providing a gentle and accessible way to pray and walk with St. Ignatius! 

Oldies but Goodies