Ignatian Prayers for the New Year: The Mirror in the Field

February 6, 2022

Have you ever wanted to go to God in prayer, but didn’t feel like you could? Maybe it’s been a while since you have prayed, maybe you’ve said or done something unkind to someone and you feel guilty for your actions, maybe your heart is broken from grief or from the words or actions of someone else, or maybe the false spirit has momentarily convinced you that you are not good enough to go to God. No matter what the reason is, I am sure we have all at one time or another felt we were not worthy to approach God in prayer, we’ve felt unworthy of God’s love.

During the preparation days of the Spiritual Exercises, we are invited to pray with several different scripture passages and meditations to help us really, truly know, deep in our bones, that we are worthy of God’s love. Knowing we are worthy of God’s love is the foundation for the rest of the Exercises

One meditation that changed my view of God in prayer is Jesuit Fr. Joe Tetlow’s meditation on The Mirror in the Field. During this meditation, we are invited to imagine we are walking through a field during a beautiful spring day. The sun is shining, and the field is full of wildflowers. As we approach the top of a hill, we see a long floor mirror nestled among the flowers facing the sun. As we get closer and circle the mirror, we notice its age. It is broken and chipped. We begin to wonder why the mirror is here.

Returning to the front of the mirror, we notice how brightly the sun’s light shines. The mirror is so saturated by the light that we cannot look directly at it without hurting our eyes. The sun pours its light into the mirror completely, holding none of its light back. The mirror, though flawed, accepts the sun’s light. The broken and chipped pieces of the mirror are trivial compared to the light shining upon it. Fr. Tetlow tells us, “The mirror throws back to the sun all light that melts in its heart. It holds no light back. It throws all its light from its heart.”

Surprised, we now turn to face the sun. We raise our faces and turn our hands out to receive the light. We simply let the sun fill us. Once we are filled, we, like the mirror, return the light towards the sun. For a moment, we’ve forgotten about our broken and chipped pieces. We ignore our flaws and give ourselves fully to the sun, letting it rest on our faces.

In case the metaphor is not obvious, Fr. Tetlow tells us that God is the sun, and we are the mirror. Despite our brokenness, God pours Godself into each of us fully. God fills each of us with gifts and God’s love. Like the mirror, we take in everything God so graciously pours into us, despite our flaws. We do not let our brokenness and sin prevent us from fully accepting these gifts and God’s love. Instead, we accept and embrace them, fully, and, like the mirror, we return to God all the love we can.

Filled with the outpouring of God’s love into us, we let this image fade and tell God of any insights or noticings we’ve had during our time in prayer.

To be honest, it had been awhile since I had thought about this meditation. Last weekend we went to Mass, and I was feeling unworthy of God’s love. I was not having much luck pulling myself out of the pity party I was throwing myself. But when I heard the second reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, God made God’s self known to me. I once again believed in my heart what I knew in my head-God still loves me and I am worthy of God’s love. Instead of “love”, I heard “God’s love.”

“God’s love is patient, God’s love is kind….God’s love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4a, 8a)

In my mind, I was in the field of wildflowers, once again noticing the mirror saturated by the light of the sun. I was reminded that even though I am a sinner, even though I have broken and chipped pieces, that not only am I worthy of God’s love, but God wants to pour Godself fully into me. I was once again able to focus not on my flaws, but on God’s love. I was able to face the sun with my hands turned out and fully accept God’s light and love pouring into me.

The thing is none of us are perfect. We all have broken and chipped pieces. We’ve all been hurt, we’ve all experienced heartache. God’s love is bigger than our brokenness. God’s love is bigger than our flaws. God’s love is bigger than our broken hearts and chipped pieces. God wants nothing more than to pour God’s self into each one of us. All we have to do is face the sun, with our hands and heart open to receive all that God pours into us, and be ready to shine God’s light and love back to God.

Go Deeper:

Photo by Kent Pilcher on unsplash.com 

 

With experience in youth ministry, campus ministry, faith formation, and as a high school theology teacher, Charlotte has worked in numerous parishes and schools along the Gulf Coast and in the Diocese of Rockford. She holds a B.A. in Theology and Master of Pastoral Studies from Spring Hill College. Charlotte and her husband live in New Orleans with their four young children, where she enjoys Ignatian Spirituality, reading, listening to live music, and bike riding with her family.

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