image taken from http://speechwriting-ghostwriting.typepad.com/speechwriting_ghostwritin/2014/01/conversations-troubles-talk-alienates-no-longer-bonds.html
Last Thursday, Maranatha Retreat House organised a session on 'Evenings in Spiritual Conversation' by Fr. Christopher Wee SJ which was really an introduction to Ignatian spirituality.
I was torn as to whether to attend this event - hot off the heels of an extremely challenging day - but I made it and it was one of those serendipitous moments I cherish.
One of the key aspects of Ignatian spirituality is its focus on conversations - with God, with St. Ignatius, with self and with others. Informal, down to earth, as how we would speak to anyone.
As the picture above says, the conversation with God is the relationship - that we are no longer talking about God but engaging with Him, having a personal experience of God as a real presence.
Likewise, the conversations with others are a journey of the heart - an opening up to each other in trust and there is no place for criticism and correction but a loving acceptance of what God is doing to us. We begin to fulfil the need and desire to make contact and for space and peace. How often do we hear the advice 'you guys need to talk' when faced with an issue or problem. So it goes. Communication at the heart of relationship building.
Fr. Chris shared with us the story of St Ignatius' conversion and highlighted his cannonball experience i.e. something that breaks us and disturbs the flow of life. This is something I hope to explore more deeply in a subsequent post.
In reflecting on our life, it is important to reflect that we go deeper rather than further. This accords with what Fr Simon Yong SJ told a younger, more impetuous me when I asked him why did I have to go up and down the garden path to discover what God wants of me? Can't I just go from point A to point B direct? Wouldn't it be easier and more efficient?
Fr Simon said the winding journey which seemed pointless at the time would lead me deeper in self-knowledge. I didn't understand him then, but I think I do now.
I'm looking forward to the next instalment next month when we begin delving into the 3 main texts at the heart of Ignatian spirituality - A Pilgrim's Journey (St Ignatius' autobiography), The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius and the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus.
Meanwhile, I have some scintillating conversations to go and initiate and people to catch up with.
*Edit - in my previous post I described SFX as organising this event - Fr Chris has kindly highlighted that it is actually Maranatha Retreat House which organised this and I have made the necessary amendments above. Apologies for the confusion.