I signed up for Ignite the Fire, a five-week, virtual program presented by a Martina and Pat Sheehan who live in Cork, Ireland, and who facilitate retreats and offer spiritual direction. Two years ago in May, I was supposed to go on retreat in Wales with Martina, but Covid happened, and my retreat did not—at least not in person. Martina and Pat have offered several on-line retreats since then, and I have appreciated their offerings.
In the first session, we heard about two Irish saints whose feast days had just been celebrated—St. Brigid (February 1) and St. Gobnait (February 11). (I imagine St. Gobnait may be a new name for some of you; I only learned of her a few years ago.) Both Brigid and Gobnait were seekers, which was a theme for the first session.
We were invited to ponder the quote “anything is possible” (Luke 1:37), and Martina talked about being a pilgrim, embarking on a journey and seeking places of resurrection.
Most any talk of a journey resonates with me (which is why my blog is called On a journey).
Since leaving my job last summer, I feel like I am back in pilgrim mode, seeking and trying to be open to what comes my way.
After seven years in the same job, I am exploring options for using my experience, skills and talent in some way other than a job at one organization. I am exploring various avenues (e.g., non-profit consulting, spiritual direction, officiating at weddings and funerals) and trying to keep an open mind when opportunities are presented (e.g., the man who called me the other day and asked if I would be interested in being a project manager at his company, which is something I have never done before).
In the first session of Ignite the Fire, we also talked about some basic dispositions toward life and were asked to pick one as a journaling prompt. These included:
• Living with uncertainty
• Seeing setbacks as opportunities
• Letting go of trying to control the uncontrollable
• Practicing altruism.
A memory came to me of a talk about managing stress. The speaker talked about a crisis being both a danger and an opportunity. Since that memory came to me, I selected seeing setbacks as opportunities as my journaling prompt.
Setbacks have been part of my life journey as far back as I can remember. Learning to see the opportunities in those setbacks took me a while to develop, but once I came to fully believe that every curse has a blessing, I handle setbacks with a little more ease. I don’t look forward to them, but I am not completely thrown by them as I once might have been. I can still be disappointed, but not devastated.
We are nearing the start of Lent, which is also a journey toward resurrection, a pilgrimage, and I am looking at Ignite the Fire as a way to help me be more aware of where God is calling me.