Summer is a time for kicking back, taking in the natural beauty around you, and getting in all the fun outdoor adventures that fall and winter seem to make difficult.
Perhaps some of you reading this live in the Seattle area… if so, what a summer we have had so far! Whether near or far, if you are trekking in the woods, walking around a park, or biking around town this season, we at Magis invite you to slow down, pause, and breathe in summer.
Ignatian Spirituality is known for helping busy people to slow down. It is also known for using the imagination as a way to experience God or the Divine in the midst of our everyday lives. Two particular imaginative forms of reflection that are fun to try out are Lectio Divina and Ignatian Contemplation. So many of us spend time in fast paced, media overloaded productivity mode, so taking even five or ten minutes to engage a process which invites you to pivot from that pace can be helpful to your emotional, physical, and spiritual health. Each of these methods is also intended to help you get out of your head space and into that deeper heart place, where you can encounter the stirring of your soul.
All you need to start is a scripture passage from your religious or spiritual tradition which sparks your interest, such as from the Christian Scriptures, Qur’an, or Jewish Bible. Or, if you prefer, try looking for a poem or selection of prose that speaks to you. The key is to enter into the narrative as if it were a movie: picture the place, experience it with your senses, notice where you are being led, consider a character or inanimate object you might be, and reflect upon the experience. You may even want to journal from an insight you receive.
Let’s give it a try! Here, we will take a twist on Ignatian Contemplation and invite you to read a poem called "This Summer Day” by poet Mary Oliver.
Ready? Here we go…
Find a space to quiet yourself… maybe this is in your living room, at a park or other space where you feel relaxed.
Notice how your body feels… be gentle with yourself and release any tension you may feel by breathing in deeply a few times.
Read the poem once. Allow yourself to read it slowly and savor the narrative. Sit with what you read for a few moments.
Read the poem again. This time, pay attention to your feelings and senses: What did you see? Smell? Hear? Feel? Is there a character or object in the scene you identify with? If so, why do you relate to him/her/it? Jot down your thoughts, if you like.
Are there any memories that come to mind? What is the connection?
As you draw a close to your reflection, give thanks for the gift of this time.
This reflection exercise takes practice, so don’t be too hard on yourself if it doesn’t work the first time! The important thing is to keep trying and showing up to the practice.
Have a question or suggestion for Magis to cover on Ignatian spirituality and leadership? If so, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know! We want to hear from you.
P.S. – Be sure to mark your calendar now for a Jesuit Alumni Day of Reflection, being held Saturday, October 11, 2014 at Seattle U!