by Mike Bayard, S.J.
I remember a conversation I had with one of our retiring faculty members a few years ago. Nearing 70 years old, she had decided that it was time to retire and begin a new chapter in her life. Interested, I asked her, "So, what's next?" She immediately responded, "Not sure! I am still trying to figure it all out. I am discerning what I am supposed to do when I grow up."
I smiled. Her answer prompted me to be faithful to the spirit within that continually calls me to be true to my innermost desires, to what God calls me to. Her answer also challenged me to break out of the complacency I can often find myself in and, instead, to consider the call to delve more deeply into the life that God has called me to. Not "more" in the way our society defines it at times, but rather "more" in the way that Saint Ignatius of Loyola defines it, the Magis. That is, doing that which yields greater life, the greater good, that which leads me toward a deeper love of God and others.
The more aware I am of God’s movements in my life, the more apt I am to feel the pull of possibility in my life.
—Mike Bayard, S.J.
As new life blossoms all around us in this springtime, we might ask ourselves this question: How do we cultivate the spirit within so that each one of us might be most authentic and faithful to what God calls us to, to our greater purpose? First, cultivating our desires requires some self-knowledge. We might consider tallying our gifts and talents as well as our fears and anxieties. We might ponder questions such as these: What am I good at? What scares me? What has God called me to before? What do I enjoy doing? What gives me a sense of purpose? The more aware I am of God's movements in my life, the more apt I am to feel the pull of possibility in my life.
Cultivating our desires requires that we create a space within our lives so that we might be able to listen more attentively. Our culture is saturated with noise, especially from digital devices that seemingly keep us occupied. How do we create an opening, a space in our lives to allow the Spirit to enter? A respected friend once offered this suggestion: Before making a choice, sit still and breathe. Just as you reach the top of your inhale, pause before you release and consider if your choice is congruent with your interior spirit. Breathing is second nature to us, as are the choices we make in our lives. Ask yourself this: Are you aware of the spaces within that allow for something new to happen within yourself?
Mike Bayard, S.J., is Director of Campus Ministry. To learn more about Magis or service opportunities for alumni, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.