Editor’s note: Throughout July we are celebrating 31 days with St. Ignatius, a month-long celebration of Ignatian spirituality. In addition to the calendar of Ignatian articles found here, this month’s posts on dotMagis will explore cannonball moments – moments that changed the course of a life, like a cannonball hit the course of the life of St. Ignatius Loyola has changed. The inspiration for our theme is the Ignatian Year, which marks the 500th anniversary of Ignatius’ injury and conversion.
I sit in the college auditorium during orientation day for my first year daughter. The speaker speaks about the Jesuit upbringing and the story of St. Ignatius, describes how he was injured by a cannonball and how this event changed his life, forcing him to look long and lovingly at his life choices. The speaker asks us about our own cannonball moments and my thoughts go back to the story of how this daughter I love came into our lives.
There were several cannonballs to be honest, but they made me learn about love. The first was the devastating infertility diagnosis, which my wife Sue and I slowly came to terms with over several years. Any news was like swallowing vinegar: miserable and heartbreaking. We had to lean against each other so as not to fall over. As reality became clearer, we had to let go of the dreams and hopes we imagined at the beginning of our marriage and move broken towards a reality we just couldn’t see.
Hope rarely comes with the blast of the trumpet, but slowly creeps into our consciousness like a shy visitor. I don’t remember when Sue first proposed adoption, but I do remember the feeling of resignation I had to conjure up when we started the process. I didn’t share her wish to adopt, but I really wanted her to know that I loved and supported her.
Like Ignatius, we had to trust in the mercy of God. I did not yet feel love for the child we would welcome into our home. But I prayed for the grace to learn to love.
This love unfolded like massive waves crashing onto the beach of my consciousness. We adopted once, then twice, then a third time. With each transformative experience, I have felt my heart grow, and I pray every day that I can serve the beautiful purpose God has for each of these children. My heart isn’t just full – it’s fuller than it could have been without those cannonballs.
The wise speaker remembered the saying that we can see the kernels in an apple, but only God sees the apples that are in the kernels. I continue to pray for the grace of my cannonball moments that God will continue to show me the fruits (in God’s good time).
Photo by Bicanski on Pixnio.
At the end of our 31 days of St. Ignatius Celebration, think about the legacy of St. Ignatius with Vinita Hampton Wright.
Then use the hashtag # 31Days with Ignatius on your favorite social media to share your cannonball moments.