Monday, May 21, 2012

Spiritually Directed

For the first time since the beginning of October, I will get up tomorrow morning, get ready for work, take Coffeeson to preschool, and not drive to the nearby Panera to meet with my spiritual director. Last Tuesday was our last weekly meeting, and the end of my journey through Ignatius of Loyola's Spiritual Exercises.

It was a worthwhile and fulfilling experience. I had a scripture passage or other meditation on which to reflect every evening, although I do confess that I didn't observe the practice every single day. My spiritual director even told me that I get a day off a week, which I usually observed on Tuesdays since we'd have met that morning. It was the most disciplined that I've been about my prayer life for quite some time, putting anything I've done during Lent--particularly the past few years, I'm embarrassed to say--to shame by far.

There are several things with which I credit this experience.

First, the aforementioned boost that it's given to my prayer life. Not only did I spend time on the assigned reflection each night, but I would take a few minutes to pray for family, friends, church members, and colleagues. I'd keep a running prayer list in my head for this, and took time to be mindful of what is happening in the lives of various people I know and love. Over time, I've begun to notice that I'm more given to spontaneous prayer throughout the day. If I hear about a tough situation that someone is dealing with, I'm more prone to stop for a few moments to pray silently for them.

Second, the past few months have re-ignited my journaling discipline. I wrote at least a page or two every couple of days to record thoughts and experiences of the week's meditations, and occasionally would write about other issues or events that seemed worth recording or processing. Again, this discipline has continued even though the Exercises have been completed.

Near the end of the retreat, the question is posed how one may continue to observe a regular prayer practice. I do find myself missing that evening time with my prayer buddy (and I think he does, too). I think that I want to keep up the spontaneous prayer and journaling as best I can, but I'd also like to be more intentional about observing the Examen, that practice of looking back over the events of the day and reflecting on how God may have been present.

Besides that, I now turn my attention toward late August when the formal classwork at the Ignatian Spirituality Institute will begin.

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