The last part of this title is highlighted at the end of this blog and connects with the intensive the Growing in Wisdom folk did at the end of September, entitled Radical Discipleship – Preparing for the Autumn of Our Lives – a nice way to say getting ready to die. Before I go any further I wanted to acknowledge that last blog I wrote that I was going to blog more of the process of discerning to become a novice in the Order of Common Life. Sorry to disappoint but I’m not going to blog it. I have it written out if anyone wants to read it, or take me out for breakfast and hear it in person, but it seemed a bit much so no blog. However I am going to blog some of my reflection on the first week…of noviciate and spiritual exercises and some of Thomas Merton’s ideas about “soul” – a central part of who I am and what I think about.
One thing that stood out for me that week was that despite being a novice and doing the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises (ISE) … I’m still me, good, bad, ugly and beautiful. I’m doing this and my life goes on. Loving Linda and everything – Linda being the easiest to love. Listening – spiritual direction is ongoing and continues to be a blessing, mutual I hope. Laboring – I’m slowing getting back into stained glass creation … mostly buying glass and I’ve got some projects on the go, which feels good.
It is interesting / providential that the main thing that stood out as I reviewed my first week of journalling from the ISE was the day I meditated, using Lectio Divina, on Isaiah 34:1 But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: repeated in vs.7 everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” These words spoke to me about the LORD creating AND forming me. There was something about creating and forming that resonates with me. I journaled “I was moved that I’m more than created…thrown together from star dust… I was formed and made. Special attention to details… a unique creation … formed seems more personal … like when I make a stained glass piece … each one takes time to form and put together, makes a special bond with creator and created that is unique … each piece / I am unique and I have a unique bond with Love who made me. ; Thanks for the effort you made in creating me, Love.” … was part of my response in prayer or colloquy – as Ignatius calls it.
Part of my weekly review was also recording a sense of excitement, almost giddiness that seems to be going on in my soul when I think about ISE. Not sure why, maybe Suhail’s big build up contributes and years of +ve reinforcement. Maybe my soul is happy anticipating connecting with love so intentionally for 32 weeks. Whatever the reasons, it was also good to be reminded that this is a process, by my logical side…the part of me that likes to be in control and is wise enough to let my heart and body have equal says, sometimes. I’d say the combination of the three enable my soul to express itself.
I just read some of Merton’s thots on the soul in Loving and Living (Kindle version) “Speaking as a Christian existentialist, I mean by “soul” not simply the Aristotelian essential form but the mature personal identity, the creative fruit of an authentic and lucid search, the “self” that is found after other partial and exterior selves have been discarded as masks.This metaphor must not mislead: this inner identity is not “found” as an object, but is the very self that finds. It is lost when it forgets to find, when it does not know how to seek, or when it seeks itself as an object. (Such a search is futile and self-contradictory.) Hence the paradox that it finds best when it stops seeking: and the graduate level of learning is when one learns to sit still and be what one has become, which is what one does not know and does not need to know. In the language of Sufism, the end of the ascetic life is Rida, satisfaction. Debts are paid (and they were largely imaginary). One no longer seeks something else. One no longer seeks to be told by another who one is. One no longer demands reassurance. But there is the whole infinite depth of what is remaining to be revealed. And it is not revealed to those who seek it from others. Education in this sense means more than learning; and for such education, one is awarded no degree. One graduates by rising from the dead. Learning to be oneself means, therefore, learning to die in order to live. It means discovering in the ground of one’s being a “self” which is ultimate and indestructible, which not only survives the destruction of all other more superficial selves but finds its identity affirmed and clarified by their destruction. p.4” (bold type by me)
Not exactly sure how to make the connection between these two experiences on my present pilgrimage but the spiritual exercises continue to call me to a deeper place in Love and dying to self is a good way to do that so I’ll go with that for now.
As usual comments or coffee is always welcome. Blessings to us all as we live into dying to self and being born in Love. The first Sunday of Advent is in 5 days so here we are.
Thanks for sharing your reflections. I’m looking forward to hearing with the ears of my heart how our Creator is forming your Self in the ISE. Happy Thanksgiving and Happy New Year if you don’t post before Advent.