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Posts Tagged ‘The Ignatian Adventure’

Jo 17Last week, I received a rather agonised email from a writer friend. She told me how, having decided to self-publish her latest book, she checked it through many times and enlisted others to help as well. However, after all that painstaking editing, she managed to send the wrong version off to the printer! By the time she realised her mistake, it was too late. That first print run was complete.

I did not have to try too hard to put myself in her shoes and empathise. I have never self-published, but I know what it feels like to have a publisher print one of my books, having added extra mistakes of his or her own, after I had signed off on the final version and agreed everything was just as I wanted it! I felt my friend’s pain and embarrassment. She was not looking forward to being judged as ignorant or less than thorough, particularly by her writing peers.

In recent weeks, however, I have found myself challenged in an even deeper way to walk in someone else’s shoes. At a friend’s suggestion, I decided to tackle a book of daily spiritual exercises entitled The Ignatian Adventure by Kevin O’Brien. Part of this adventure involves reading the Gospels with all my senses and imagination at work and contemplating the life of Jesus in a fresh, up close and personal way. It involves letting the events of Jesus’ life be present to me right now, as best I can. And it involves allowing the Holy Spirit to touch my heart in the process, rather than merely gaining head knowledge about Jesus.

So far, I have contemplated the birth of Jesus as one of those bystanders in the stable. I have put myself in the shoes of Anna and Simeon at Jesus’ presentation in the temple and wondered what it must have been like for Joseph and Mary to flee to Egypt with their son. I have sensed their confusion when Jesus, as a young man, chooses to stay behind in the temple, asking the teachers questions. I have put myself in those scenes where Jesus calls his first disciples. I have tried to imagine how Jesus must have felt on hearing that affirming voice from heaven as he is baptised in the Jordan River and have asked my loving Father to speak those words into my own spirit. I have been deeply challenged, being with Jesus in that desert as he faces being tempted. I have listened with anger as he experiences rejection in his own home town. I put all my senses to work to picture the scene where a paralytic is lowered through the roof so Jesus can heal him. I heard the criticisms—but I also joined with others who praised God, saying ‘We have never seen anything like this!’ (Mark 2:12)

I’m up to the Sermon on the Mount now—and I can’t wait. I’m so much looking forward to journeying on with Jesus and listening to what the Spirit wants to say to me. I want my relationship with Jesus to be authentic, to be current, to be up close and personal. After all, it’s the best way to become more like him, don’t you think?

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Jo 23Yesterday, I noticed a small, stand-up calendar on my desk. According to the month it showed, we were still in April. As I went to flip the page over to May, I gasped. Surely only a few days had passed since I had changed this calendar from March to April? How could another month have disappeared so quickly?

It seemed to me the year was fast slipping through my fingers, with no new book completed and very little preparation for upcoming speaking engagements done either. True, I submitted another non-fiction book to my publisher in January. And true, I have at least begun a new novel. And I had prepared for a speaking event this past weekend, only to have it cancelled, due to unforeseen circumstances. But … well, I seemed to have achieved so little in the light of all those weeks and months that have now passed into oblivion.

Then in the stillness around me, I became aware of God’s gentle voice speaking into my spirit. I sat up straight and breathed deeply. Yes, in this year, I have done my best. I have tried to take more care of myself, after ten busy, busy years of writing and speaking. I have tracked with several women, listening as they have shared what is happening in their lives. I have provided many meals for visitors in our home. I have minded grandchildren. I have rearranged our garden a little. And yes, I have kept writing too. Gradually, my heart was able to receive that gentle reminder of God’s total love and acceptance of me, whether I produced anything or not, whether I was digging the garden, speaking to a large group, writing that next great Australian novel—or simply doing nothing.

‘Am I not enough for you, Jo-Anne?’ God seemed to say. ‘Don’t you trust me to watch over you and bring good out of all the various strands and events in your life? I see exactly where you are up to in your writing. I knew ahead about that cancelled speaking engagement. I’m aware of how you feel about those fleeting months. But surely your times are in my hands? And don’t you yourself matter more to me than anything you might produce?’

I turned then to a book I am using at the moment entitled The Ignatian Adventure which contains spiritual exercises for each day—Scripture readings, other reflections and personal questions to ponder. I turned to the day’s reading—Jeremiah 17:7-8:

But blessed is the man (woman) who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He (she) will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

Yes, however fast those months fly by, I know I will bear fruit as I continue to allow my roots to go down deep into God. The fruit may vary in type and in abundance—but the Lord is trustworthy and his love for me will never change, month after month, year after year, and on into eternity.

As the year slips by, are your roots going down deep into God too?

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