Not the doctors bungling and sawing away again,
not his will clenched and pitted against the pain;
his glittering future – that lady’s smile – vanish;
he learns at last how to be ill, to heed the wounds.
Soft rain on the iron valley of Loyola.
Now the world is only this narrow valley,
now he has all the slow time in the world
to be bored, to know death tastes like metal,
to count his countless blessings, to be healed.
Healing comes gently or not at all.
How still he must stay! He dreams his desires,
generous and restless; a lady, a soldier, his high enterprise;
stories of hermits, of pilgrims, and their deeds,
eternal and bold. How his heart wanders and wavers!
Give him, Healer, only Your love and Your grace.
Again and again, imagination captures
and releases him. Even peace can taste like iron.
Hour by hour, he transcribes the “Vita Christi” into his heart.
Peace is soft rain. He surrenders and at last is free.
Find Christ the Lord in Loyola’s holy land.
Take this memory: a boy, he careers with his fellows
through the topmost walnut trees
Andrew Bullen SJ, Ignatius the Pilgrim
Ignatius the Pilgrim – Poems for Prayer, 2013