I am enrolled in an Internship Program in Ignatian Spirituality, and during a recent session, the leader affirmed something I had said. I was filled with pride because of his affirmation. Still seeking approval, I acknowledged to myself.
The next morning at prayer, I replayed that moment—the leader’s acknowledgment, my pride, and then my awareness of my neediness. In that moment, I was my nine-year-old self again, except at nine, I would have voiced my pride in a kind of nah, nah, nah, nah, nah way. At least now, I stopped before that step.
The first image that came to me in prayer was a child in school, arm waving high in the air, wanted to be seen and chosen. Pick me, she says.
Of course, when I was nine years old, I would not have had the confidence to raise my hand, even if I did know the correct answer. Even at twenty-nine, I was reluctant to offer an answer. Probably even at forty-nine.
My lack of self-confidence ran deep.
As I sat with the image of the child waving her hand in the air, a second image occurred to me—it was God waving at me, trying to get my attention, wanting me to acknowledge and pick God.
God is trying to snag my attention in every moment—no matter where I am or what I am doing. I only need the desire to see and hear what God is saying, to be open and paying attention. It can happen at any time.
The other day, God snagged my attention when I was reading a novel about Auchwitz, and I had an aha moment that invited me to be more compassionate.
And then I started watching Mad Men, and the deep loneliness of the characters reminded me of the loneliness of so many people today—and I felt invited to reach out.
My cousin shared a video clip of her eight-month-old granddaughter, crawling over an obstacle. After several tries, she managed to roll over to the other side. She is one determined little girl, I commented and then realized God invites me to be that determined.
During the Internship session, someone commented on a something I had said, a throw-away line for me that caught him. Throw-away lines can carry great truth, I said, remembering that when my friend Jim was preparing for death, he recalled many throw-away lines people had said to him that seemed insignificant at the time, but that gave him great consolation at the end of his life.
We can easily miss the messages of God, the invitations to spiritual growth, because we are not paying attention. We can forget that God speaks to us through the mundane as well as the magnificent—even novels, popular culture, the actions of a child, and casual comments.
Ignatian spirituality reminds us that we can find God in all things. Everything holds the potential to reveal God, if we are paying attention and open to see.