During our first Into the Deep blog series “Drawn to Ignatius” members of our writing team will tell us the ways Ignatian Spirituality has informed their lives, prayers, and their desire to go into the deep. Today Gretchen Crowder shares with us some of the things she has learned from St. Ignatius.
All of my boys walked at fifteen months.
I think the parenting books say it’s supposed to happen around a year, and as a new mom, I know I spent some energy worrying about why they were taking their sweet time with this milestone. Looking back, however, I see the truth… they just were not ready yet. It eventually happened though. One day, without really understanding what changed in each of them, they finally raised themselves up and put one foot in front of the other until they seemed to catch air and fly. Though they continue to stumble along the way, they have not stopped moving since.
If we really think about it, we probably have many moments like these in our own lives where something just finally clicks and our feet and our hearts suddenly know what to do. For me, finding Ignatius was one of these moments.
I was introduced to Ignatius and Ignatian Spirituality fourteen years ago this August sitting at my first New Teacher orientation at a Jesuit school. I was in my late twenties, and I was still desperately searching for something I could not quite name. We were invited to read a series of essays by the late Gerald Fagin, S.J. called A Dream Confirmed. In it, Fagin outlined some of the things I still find most inspiring about Ignatius. His words were the first glimpse for me into this person, this saint that had, like me, struggled to stand in the reality of who God was calling him to be. I was finally able to connect with someone who also constantly revised and edited their life with a true, genuine desire to grow deeper in their relationship with God. Ignatius’ winding journey to discover who he was in God gave me hope for my own.
Since that first year, I have come to know Ignatius more in the day to day work of being a Campus Minister in a Jesuit school. And every year that I study and learn and write more about Ignatius, my knowledge of who God is and what God wants from me deepens. A year ago, I wrote an article on what Ignatius taught me, and it is amazing to me that this year I have even more lessons to share. In the course of crazy 2020, Ignatius has opened my eyes to even more truth. Most recently, Ignatius has taught me that:
- My life and your life can be a prayer. The last five months I have been a full-time working mom at home with three rambunctious young boys who also needed to learn. I have a lot of trouble even formulating a thought these days let alone a prayer. Ignatius, however, recognized that the daily, active life is a huge part of our prayer and conversation with God, and he gave us tools like the Examen to start the conversation no matter where we are standing. The prayer, the offering, is right there in the messiness of it all.
- We are loved deeply no matter what. I, perhaps like many of you, have felt a little lost during this time at home far away from normal and at arm’s length from human contact. Watching our world struggle outside my doors has brought to the surface big questions for me including “Gretchen, is this who you want to be?” Ignatius, however, reminds me constantly through the beautiful words of his First Principle and Foundation that when we are lost or uncertain or not yet the person we want to be – we are still unconditionally loved. Even when we sin, even we mess up, even we fall – we are loved.
- It is never too late to start again. Like my boys learning to walk, I know I have stumbled quite a bit in the last five months. Ignatius, however, helped me get back up and try again. There is a story I love about Ignatius as an adult sitting in a classroom with young kids. In order to become the person he felt called to be, he had to go back and learn the basics alongside children. Over and over again, Ignatius had to learn how to put one foot in front of the other so that he could fly. And we can do that too.
I feel blessed by this opportunity to share this space with other women who have been so inspired by the life of Ignatius. I hope that as you join us each week, you find some truth to hold onto. I pray that something we share with you helps you find your legs, helps you put one foot in front of the other so that you can learn to fly.
You can read more about Gretchen’s experience with the First Principle and Foundation here.
Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on unsplash.