So I just completed my group-based 19th Annotation retreat with the folks at St. Michael’s parish downtown in Buffalo. After going through the Ignatian exercises with the group I have a better handle on Ignatius’ thought and yet I still hunger for more. I asked my spiritual director, if I might do the exercises more privately with him and he agreed. And honestly, I think that might be a better experience for me. It’s not that the retreat experience was bad with the group, but rather, at times I felt a bit uneasy at opening up with people and think I’d do better with a more private experience–surprisingly I almost never feel this way, so God and St. Ignatius must be working on me through these exercises.
I would say too that the experience with the group was surely gift and sacred space for me. Many shared at a deep level and I relished that including the stuff that a particular friend shared that really resonated with me. Often I found it hard to relate to some members of the group but yet, God found a way to break through that anyway and keep me open to the experience.
The greatest gift of Ignatius was that of freedom, or rather recalling that freedom always is offered to me, even when I think there’s no way out. God may not come on time, but when God does, he’s always right on time. Often I think I have to be somewhere, or do something, or act a certain way. But the truth is that I have nowhere to be. I need to be open to where God may be leading me. Often when I trust that direction, I find my joy.
This year I’ve been able to walk with many students and colleagues and now I will be walking with my sister through her experience of cancer. And mostly what St. Ignatius has been able to show me is that God will continue to walk with me through everything and therefore, there is nothing to fear.
So today, let’s pray that we all can derive such comfort from God. That we can see God in new ways and we can be reminded that God always holds us in the palm of his hand.