Today is winding down on the West Coast. It’s the Feast Day of St. Ignatius of Loyola. If you’re new to the scene, I’ve been celebrating Ignatian Spirituality the entire month of July.
This is what happened during the last week of #31DaysWithIgnatius.
1.) I’ve started watching Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown a CNN series on Netflix.
2.) I created a Bay Area Bucket List of things to do, see, and eat.
3.) I downloaded the app Oyster and read the book The Rosie Project. I know have a new goal to read at least 400 pages each week.
4.) I visited the San Francisco Botantical Gardens with a friend and drank coffee while looking out at the gardens and the rolling hills before me.
The past 9 days have been full.
What does this have to do with St. Ignatius?
A great deal, actually.
What I learned through my own Iggy Project was that encounters with God happen daily if we are open and receptive. As an ambitious writer who is hung up on rules and details, part of me feels like I failed at my own project because I didn’t write every day like I said I would. What I gained from channeling my inner Ignatius was a greater appreciation for what I have around me.
Coffee, sunsets, birds, beaches, palm trees, meals, gardens, sunshine, friends to….
homeless people on the streets, my dingy apartment, my less than satisfactory job, fog, pain, panic attacks and
everything in between.
I have learned to embrace what is in my life from the simple pleasantries of life such as biting into an almond croissant to watching the sunset over Lone Mountain. I have learned that God is with me during times when money is tight or when I’m experiencing a rush of anxiety. I can see God in the faces of those around me. I can see God on the screen with one of my favorite celebrity chefs, as he walks through war-torn places like Libya ,interviewing people about the price of freedom whilst in local cafés.
As Ignatius has shown us, God is not limited to man kind’s simplistic notion of Him. The things around us are not God, but rather, a vehicle in which to guide us towards intimate encounters with Him. By looking beyond ourselves, we can come into closer communication with Him. We can marvel at a sunset and think of God’s infinite plan for us. We can reach a moment of suffering and find Him suffering with us. God is in all things. He works through all things and through all circumstances.
Finding God in all things means finding gratitude daily. Having gratitude not only means being gracious, but it also means graciously accepting the circumstances of this life with an understanding that we don’t understand hardly anything at all. We naturally seek to have control. Control provides us comfort. Anxiety comes when we feel like we are losing control.Surrender is the opposite of having control. When we surrender everything, we acknowledge that we do not have the capacity to know and understand everything in this life. When we surrender, we let go of everything. We acknowledge that we are merely a small part of a larger plan that we can not fully see or understand. Surrender allows us to say, “God, you made me. I trust you. Do with me as you will.” In doing this, we can accept that God works through all things. When we surrender, we can have gratitude. We can see the beauty of God’s grace and love even in the minutest of details. We can see the beauty of God’s love even in the grimmest of details. What I learned in this complex month full of emotions and observances is that God is ever-present. Life is full of daily reminders of His love for us. All we have to do is look around us.