Wake Up and Love – Ignatian Spirituality

Last summer, I entered the time of the retreat on my annual retreat, unsure of what I wanted from God. Of course, I always wish to draw closer to Christ and be renewed for the year to come. I hope for the comfort a retreat can bring. But as the retreat went on, I didn’t know what I wanted deeper. Ignatian spirituality is often based on our deepest desires, as well as reflection on those desires and how best to use them to give something back. But what if you’re not sure what you want? At other retreats, I have entered with a clearer set of specific requests, such as healing from grief over the death of a parent or clarity about work priorities. This time it felt completely open.

What helped me go deeper into the retreat space was praying to rediscover my own desires. Jesus asked me, “What do you want?” I replied, “I don’t know. Help me discover. ”In my imaginative prayer, Jesus handed me a smooth, oval, gray stone. There were words on either side of the stone. One side said, “Wake up.” The other side said “love”. Wake up and love? That sounded perfect to articulate the deeper longings in my heart. Receiving this stone felt like pieces of the puzzle were coming together, and I felt the “rightness” of the message.

In the days that followed, this “wake up” message led me to be attentive to the retreat center where God was in the beauty of nature and to awaken a tangible sense of God’s presence in myself as well. I find that it goes deeper and deeper where and how we can experience God’s presence deep within ourselves and outside of us in the world. Although these experiences can sometimes be big moments, I find that as I get older, I appreciate the way God is present in small moments and small graces. For example, the beauty of a fern that I passed on an afternoon retreat stays with me. Ferns are humble plants that do not bloom, but have a calm sort of grandeur with their beautiful green, unfolding fronds. They are hardy and grow well in the shade. Prayer, too, can sometimes be like a large, showy flower, or quieter and more humble, like a shade plant. God is in both. But am I awake to both types?

The other side of the stone, “love,” reminded me of how much I long to love and be loved well. Maybe God just let me know that a retreat was a time to experience God’s love and to remember the many moments of love that I have known from other people over the decades in order to restore and renew myself so that I also love can give. Waking up and loving belong together, I think. When we really wake up and see the good in who others are, the good in who we are, and the good in creation, then that awakening also awakens our love.

Ignatian spirituality reminds us to seek God in all things. It has been months since my annual retreat, but I am returning to the message on this stone to remind you to practice the same in daily work and personal life: be attentive, be awake and try to love in the everyday, everyday ways .

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