It has been awhile since I have taken the time to sit with a painting of Saint Ignatius and imagine what it would be like if I was part of that scene. Imaginative prayer is an important component of Ignatian Spirituality. The painting above depicts the time Ignatius spent in Manresa Spain writing his Spiritual Exercises. We see La Cova, the Blessed Mother as well as the Cardoner River. Although I don’t recall the river being this blue ( picture to left June 2015), it was the color of the river in this painting that jump started my reflection on gratitude. When I read the Autobiography of Ignatius, I recalled an explicit reference to gratitude after Ignatius experienced his mystical vision of Mary while praying along the Cardoner. Gratitude is a central and recurring theme in Ignatian Spirituality. With so much to be thankful for, I wanted to share a prayer/conversation that came from this recent reflection:
A Conversation with God for Thanksgiving Day:
God and Ignatius, as you camped out inside me for all these years, I’m grateful that you gave me the courage to un zip my interior tent door that allowed you access to my heart. Thank you for setting up camp in my heart, not only do I “feel” with my heart today, but with your guidance I now “see” with my heart.
God,I’m grateful for the clear eyes you have allowed me to explore with. The spiritual lens I now look through shows me life and all that comes with it as a gift from God. Through this awareness comes a freedom, knowing I don’t need to possess and accumulate “things” to be happy. All I need is Your love God, a love to share.
I’m grateful that you are guiding me to be a serving leader, in the community, at work and at home. You both are examples that love is shown in deeds as well as words.
Although at times I grow inpatient with you two for not allowing me to see God’s will clearly , I remain grateful for better understanding how gratitude leads to love and service to not only to you God, but also for all those around me.
I thank you Ignatius for the counter cultural gift of the 3 degrees of humility. I accept these gifts with open arms, but this has been a hard gift to fully unwrap. As I slowly align my will with the will of God, I see the importance of the first degree and the function of it for salvation. The second degree has it owns set of challenges, but I feel empowered by scripture and prayer to take on this step. Poverty opposed to riches, insults opposed to worldly honor and humility opposed to pride. Ignatius you challenge me on the 3rd degree, as I’m too weak at this point to move forward, in a spiritual sense. “Perfect Humility”, being Christ like. On the secular side, thank you for helping me practice “humbition” that blend of humility and ambition. I find peace in being a leader that can weave, humility, discernment and Magis together. I’m grateful that I can embrace and speak openly about the counter cultural Ignatian principles of leadership.
I’m thankful Ignatius for your gift of the daily examen. This twice daily practice of “examen of conscience” allows me to slow down my daily routine and thank you God for all the gifts bestowed upon me. Most importantly, acknowledging that these gifts teach me about my relationship with you God and how gratitude can grow our love for each other.
Thank you God for showing me that gratitude is not isolated to only the good in our lives. Although hard to grasp at times, I thank you for giving me my crosses, my burdens and my sadness. It is through my daily sufferings that I’m reminded of your son’s humanity and what he endured for us. The darkness You cast upon us carries many lessons. I’m grateful that your illumination always prevails and that my gratefulness always feeds hope.
Finally God and Ignatius, thank you for sharing with me the core element of Ignatian Spiritually, “Finding God In All Things.” For the self-awareness of what is happening in my daily life and the roles you two play, I’m thankful for that. God, I enjoy seeing You disguised in the body of another person. I relish our conversations while hiking and when you show up in the beauty of a stream or as an orange arrow on a tree. I find You easily when “life is good” but I can see you clearly in challenging relationships, my failings, my loneliness . You are truly a God of surprises. I ask for the grace that you will continue to keep my heart open to your presence so I may see your will, my purpose and all the wonderful places your plan has me headed to. May I continue to hear your voice amongst all the noise we are surrounded by. May my self-awareness only get stronger so I can remain alert to see the needs of others while serving you and sharing your ways.