Monday, December 14, 2009

Foundational Lessons

About this time last year I was starting to get things organized to leave to make the Spiritual Exercises. During the Long Retreat by 3:30 am, I would usually be just finishing my last contemplation of the "day." Tonight I'm up at 3:30 am contemplating - drawing once again from the Exercises, this time the Foundation and Principle and indifference.
We should not fix our desires
on health or sickness,
wealth or poverty,
success or failure,
a long life or a short one.
For everything has the potential of calling forth in us
a deeper response to our life in God.
Our only desire and our one choice should be this:
I want and I choose what better leads to God's deepening his life in me.

From the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, translated by David Fleming, S.J.
I spent a chunk of today in the ER, working hard - and not terribly effectively -- to move air in and out of my lungs. These lines kept bouncing through my head "we should not fix our desires on health or sickness." Could I really say that in all honesty about this experience? I desire to breathe deeply, I want my voice back. When all the drugs kicked in, the sense of relief and gratitude was exquisite. But I certainly was not indifferent, I know which end of this experience I desired.

A week or so ago, Paul Campell, SJ posted a wisdom story on the People for Others blog. A young man seeks wisdom from a hermit, who pushes him face down into the river. When he comes up gasping, the hermit asks what he wanted most at that moment. "Air!" (I can relate.) “Very well,” said the master. “Go home and come back to me when you want God as much as you just wanted air."

I'm still not indifferent, but maybe I have an inkling of what it means to want God like air.

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