One of the many joys of technology to me is meeting people around the world who share similar passions. A few weeks ago, I received an email from a spiritual director and chemist, who just wrote a new book, and who was looking to meet in person at the Spiritual Directors International Conference in April. Mags Blackie’s new book, Rooted in Love, just arrived at my house on Saturday, and it is next on my “to read” stack.
As I delved into Mags’ website and learned more about her and her writing, we decided to engaged in some questions via the wonderful world of technology about her ministry as a spiritual director and her role as a chemist:
1. What is your favorite part about being a spiritual director and journeying with others?
It is such a privilege to get to see how God works in the lives of others. There are a couple of aspects to this. Firstly, I am always so humbled when people are willing to talk about their inner lives with me. It gives a real sense of connection, and helps me keep my own life in perspective. Secondly, I get to witness the enormous creativity and generosity of God woven through the text of another person’s life. It is usually much easier to see God at work from one step away, than in the immediacy of one’s own life. This is greatly enriched my own understanding of the nature of God.
2. What are common themes you hear people share within direction? What hungers do you see within people in this day and age?
I find this a difficult question to answer. I think I normally view a person’s story in terms of what God might be wanting to communicate. This is not to say that I put words in God’s mouth. I am firm believer in following Ignatius’ instruction of letting the Creator deal directly with the creature. The persistent message seems to be the importance of unconditional love. I don’t think any of us quite grasp that, but I think it just may be the key to truly living. The stumbling block that any individual has to receiving that message will be different, which is where it is important to let God be God and deal with the person as God sees best.
3. How do you witness Ignatian Spirituality, Spiritual Exercises, Discernment Wisdom, etc (over 500 year old) resonating with people in 2014?
I think nowadays the language and some of the imagery used in the Exercises is increasingly foreign. Nonetheless the wisdom and power in the dynamic of the Weeks is astounding. The teaching on discernment is so important because it gives people a way to deal with all the daily choices that they face. It helps us find meaning, purpose and connection in the midst of our current reality. I have yet to encounter a person who found conscious discernment through attending church services. And yet I can’t imagine trying to live a life of faith without the capacity to discern. In addition to this, in recent years as I have encountered areas of struggle in my own life I have the practice of actively praying for a particular grace tremendously useful and liberating.
4. How does your faith life feed your role as a chemist? How does your role as a chemist feed your faith life?
Again a question I find hard to answer. I think I live in tension between the chemist and the spiritual director. I know that I need the chemist part to truly thrive. I need the intellectual stimulation and the emotional simplicity of chemistry as a counterweight to the depths of spiritual direction. So, I can’t really draw a straight line between chemistry and faith and how they feed each other. I just know that for some reason that continues to both mystify me and frustrate me at times I need both to be fully myself.
5. Drawing on your own spiritual journey and work as a spiritual director, what do you most want to share with people starting out on their faith journey?
I suppose firstly to say don’t look at anyone else. You are precisely where you need to be to encounter God – God will meet you wherever you are. Secondly, pause for a few minutes and ask God to show you where God has been. But be sure to give God a chance to respond! Then talk to God a little about that. Learning to recognize how God communicates with you is perhaps the most important place to start. Once you have a vague sense of that, the next step will become clear.
6. Freebie– share whatever else you feel called to share! 🙂
I stumbled into the world of Ignatian spirituality when I was 21. A few years later part way through making the Exercises God became the central focus of my life. Ignatian spirituality gave me a way to sustain that over the last 15 years. It also gave me some of the tools and touchstones I use in making choices. Most people will not have the experience I have had of working in a retreat house and living in a Jesuit community. This is why I wrote this book, to give people real access to the wisdom of Ignatius to enhance their own faith journey. There have already been a number of people who have found it very useful. I hope some more people read it and pass it on to those who need it.
I invite you to learn more about Mags work at her website, and I invite you to join me in reading her new book, Rooted in Love. I have a feeling this will be the first book that journeys with me into the world of rocking a newborn!