Ignatian Spirituality Mind Spirit

Fresh Start

If you’ve been following this blog for awhile, you’ve picked up on the fact that I enjoy sunrises.  I’m an early riser, and I love to sit on my back porch, coffee in hand and watch the dawn of a new day.  It’s worth the effort!

Yesterday, a young man I know started a new job.  I’ve been friends with Diego and his parents for almost fifteen years now, and  I guess you could say that I’ve become one of his mentors.  Like most twenty-somethings, he’s always got something going on in his life to talk about.

About four months ago, Diego quit his job in a huff.  The boss wasn’t the nicest person, and he had had enough.  Although he found another job quickly, it wasn’t exactly right either.  But he stuck with it, and it has paid off well for him.  A few weeks ago the owners asked him to become the manager of one of their busiest and nicest restaurants.  That’s a big complement for someone so young, but he’s got tremendous potential and they saw it.

He has been so excited over the last few weeks, talking about all his big plans.  I have really enjoyed those many conversations, since over the years, working in the same job, it’s been easy to fall into the trap of mediocrity.  Why change, if its already working? If you’re creeping up into middle age, I’m sure you can relate.

Just listening to this young man share his dreams and hopes has gotten me dreaming and hoping again.  His fresh start, which began with such excitement yesterday, has got me thinking about some fresh starts I need to make in my own life.

No matter what we do, or how old we are, the new day always provides us with the potential of change.  When Diego called yesterday morning, asking if he could stop by on the way to his new job, I said of course.

He pulled up and almost jumped out of the car.  He looked great, dressed in clothes he had purchased the night before.  He was ready to conquer the world.  What a joy it was to share a few minutes with him, and what a blessing that he thought to spend some this with me.   When I walked back to my office, I had a little extra bounce in my step.  Happiness can be contagious, can’t it?

Body Ignatian Spirituality Mind Spirit

Time to get moving

Probably like you, I’m on several email subscription lists.  Just about every day I receive an email from John Eldridge, and they contain some quote from one of his many great books.  I thought today’s quote from his book, Sacred Romance was a great one to share:

Journey or Homestead?

Every great story involves a quest. In J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins ran from the door at a quarter till eleven without even so much as a pocket handkerchief and launched on an adventure that would change his life forever. Alice stepped through the looking glass into Wonderland; Lucy, Edmund, Susan, and Peter stumbled through the wardrobe into Narnia. Abraham left his country, his people, and his father’s household to follow the most outlandish sort of promise from a God he’d only just met, and he never came back. Jacob and his sons went to Egypt for some groceries and four hundred years later the Israel nation pulled up stakes and headed for home. Peter, Andrew, James, and John all turned on a dime one day to follow the Master, their fishing nets heaped in wet piles behind them. The Sacred Romance involves for every soul a journey of heroic proportions. And while it may require for some a change of geography, for every soul it means a journey of the heart.

The choice before us now is to journey or to homestead, to live like Abraham, the friend of God, or like Robinson Crusoe, the lost soul cobbling together some sort of existence with whatever he can salvage from the wreckage of the world. Crusoe was no pilgrim; he was a survivor, hunkered down for the duration. He lived in a very, very small world where he was the lead character and all else found its focus in him. Of course, to be fair, Crusoe was stranded on an island with little hope of rescue. We have been rescued, but still the choice is ours to stay in our small stories, clutching our household gods and false lovers, or to run in search of life.

I don’t know about you, but I think the time has come for all of us to make that leap of faith and run towards the prize that St. Paul speaks about.  It’s time to hop on the bridge that will take us somewhere new…

Ignatian Spirituality Mind Spirit

Where the wind has blown

Today has been a day of recollection.  As I enter my last week of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, I’m to review my journal and look for ideas/concepts/situations that remind me of how God has been moving in my life over the last 30+ weeks.

I hardly got through my first entry written on  September 23rd, 2009, when I acknowledged just how present God has been to me throughout this time. As I flipped through the many pages of these daily entries, I was struck by the fact that this has been the first time I’ve really stuck with the task of journalling.  I’m grateful that I’ll always have a record of all these many, many experiences, and I’m hoping that I’ll keep with it.  I guess in some sense, this blog will also fulfill the role of a daily journal, but now I get to share my experiences with you 🙂

Through my reading of my journal, I was also reflecting on how much more disciplined I’ve become over the last several months.  I’m a procrastinator by nature, I guess, although I do have pretty good follow-through once I start something.  But you have to be disciplined if you want to get something out of this great legacy of St. Ignatius.

When he penned the Spiritual Exercises in the 1500’s, Ignatius was writing as a layman, and he intended the exercises for laypeople.  Only later did he form the group that would eventually become the Society of Jesus.

There are two main ways to complete the exercises as Ignatius intended.  The first way is to do a 30 day silent retreat, done with the help of a spiritual director.  The second way, which is how I am doing them, is called the 19th Annotation, and is usually done over the span of 34 weeks.  It can be done one on one with a spiritual director/guide or it can be done in a group setting.   For those who are adventurous, it can even be done online through Creighton  University.

I’ll be writing a lot more about the exercises in upcoming daily blogs, and may even create a separate page so as to do them justice.

I leave you with these words from the autobiography of St. Ignatius, entitled, A Pilgrim’s Journey.  He was writing about himself when he wrote,

He was astonished at these changes, which he had never before experienced, and said to himself, “What kind of life is this that we are now beginning?”

So, as St. Ignatius points out, the end of the Exercises marks a new beginning.  Where will the Wind take us?

Ignatian Spirituality Mind Spirit

Time With Friends

Yesterday, some elderly friends of mine returned to Maryland after spending the winter in Florida.  This year, it was cold down there for much of the time, and they were excited to come north.

I’ve known this couple for nearly twenty years, and they are faithful friends. I have watched them grow old, and now they are beginning to struggle with their health.  Their friends are dying off, several this winter while they were away.  They didn’t have the chance to say goodbye.

I know from them and other people I’m close to, its hard to get old, to not be able to do what you want to do, when you want to do it, to slowly lose control.  As I was driving home, I was thinking about the passage from John’s gospel, where Jesus says to Peter, “when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you are old, someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go” (John 21:18). I guess Jesus wasn’t just talking to Peter, but to all of us. It will happen. The important thing, I think, is what we do with it.

My friends continue to be as active as they can, take care of their sickly neighbors, and keep a positive attitude.  When I told them I was bringing over Lentil soup, they were genuinely excited to try it.  They know I’m trying to eat healthier, and they are too.  They loved the soup, especially on a cold rainy day like it was here in Maryland.

Just about everyone I know is trying to get healthier, especially focusing on what they eat.  I’m finding it so much more fun to do it with the people I care about most, whether it’s in person, on the phone, or through this blog.

Body Ignatian Spirituality Mind Spirit

Resolution Review

Well, it’s been about five months since many of us made our annual New Year’s Resolutions.  I was trying to remember mine, so I guess maybe I haven’t quite met them.  Hum…

USA Today did a study where researchers tracked individuals who made New Year’s resolutions.  They divided them into two groups:  (1) Those who made a resolution and wrote it down, and (2) those who made one but didn’t write it down. The results were astonishing.  Of those who neglected to put their goal down on paper, only 4% kept their resolution, however, those who did write it down, 44% kept them.  That’s a ten fold increase!

So this got me thinking.  Did I write them down somewhere?  If I was smart enough to, where did I put that paper?  Maybe you share in this dilemma?

Well, whatever those goals were in January, they are still probably relevant today.  So, maybe its time to start over.  If you didn’t make at least one resolution, then maybe we can all set some goals together.

Here’s some easy tips:

  • Write it down.  Put it in a prominent place, or somewhere where it won’t be lost.
  • A goal must be achievable.  Maybe you could have two, one easy, and one that is challenging.
  • The goal must be measurable and specific.

There’s a lot of info out on the net, including a website set up to help with goalsetting,  I haven’t spent a lot of time on the site, just pointing out there’s help available.

So, what are my goals going to be?

  1. Keep working on my diet and exercise by maintaining my present weight and making it to the gym at least three times a week.
  2. Set up opportunities to share with people the importance of getting healthy, body, mind and spirit.
  3. Getting a vegetable garden planted by May 1st.
  4. Complete the Spiritual Exercises and start sharing with others about the experience.
  5. Finally start my Sacred Feast dinners, inviting people to my house to share in the cooking and eating of a healthy meal.

So, folks, those are my goals/resolutions I want to keep for the next several months.  If you have some goal/resolution you want to work on, post it in the comments section of this post.  Let’s cheer each other on!