When praying this month’s spiritual exercise, I sat with the question: Where has my faith endured during my life? And the response was: When I have been most fragile. Over the past 12 months, I have been faced with health challenges with no resolution in sight.
Three things have been my anchor during these times: trusting I can find God in all things, practicing the Examen regularly, and taking some time out to deeply reflect and decide on the trajectory of my life.
Finding God in all things. I trust this. That God is in all. I am tethered to a stable anchor when I receive the divine in not only moments of joy and serenity but also in the pale and the darkness of my challenges. When I first had a rather painful health incident and a diagnosis that was less that clear, I felt the rug pull out from underneath me. It was especially during these shaky weeks that I was fortified to rely on God’s all-embracing presence.
Recognising moments of grace shining through the darkness has been the fruit of regularly practicing the Ignatian Awareness Examen this year. I didn’t get to my examen every day, but I did pick it up a few times a week. Even then, practicing this exercise some of the time has grown a type of spiritual resilience in me that has given enabled me to recognise God in the most unexpected and surprising places in this crazy healing journey. This is formed a stronger connection and relationship with God.
Taking some time out to reflect more deeply on the trajectory of my life. As a busy working mother, I find time is precious. I remember pre-kids being able to take a six-day retreat without blinking an eye, then babies came along, and six hours was a luxury! This year, I treated myself to a six-day retreat and became sick during it! But still, it was so worth it. To take myself away and pause, notice the movements of my heart, and discern how to move forward with God. All with the accompaniment of a gifted spiritual director.
I am grateful for the exercises and practices of Ignatian spirituality, for giving me the ballasts to negotiate this turbulent year with enduring faith.
Thank you to Elizabeth*, a receiver of Ignatian Spirituality, who has prayed the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius, attended many retreats, and is forming herself to be a giver for others. *name changed