Editor’s note: Throughout July, we’re celebrating 31 Days with St. Ignatius, a month-long celebration of Ignatian spirituality. In addition to the calendar of Ignatian articles found here, posts on dotMagis this month will explore cannonball moments—moments that changed the course of a life, just as getting hit by a cannonball changed the course of St. Ignatius Loyola’s life. The inspiration for our theme is the Ignatian Year, which marks the 500th anniversary of Ignatius’s injury and conversion.
I’m sitting in the auditorium at the college during orientation day for my first-year student daughter. The speaker is talking about Jesuit education and the story of St. Ignatius, describing how he was injured by a cannonball and how that event changed his life, forcing him to take a long, loving look at his life choices. The speaker asks us about our own cannonball moments, and my mind goes back to the story of how this daughter I love came into our life.
There were multiple cannonballs, to be honest, but they led me to learn something about love. The first was the devastating diagnosis of infertility, which my wife Sue and I had to process slowly over several years. Each bit of news was like swallowing vinegar: wretched and stomach-wrenching. We had to lean into each other just to keep from falling over. As the reality became more plain, we found ourselves having to let go of dreams and hopes that we had imagined early in our marriage and walk, broken, toward a reality we simply could not see.
Hope seldom arrives with trumpet blasts, but rather it creeps slowly into our consciousness like a shy visitor. I don’t remember when Sue first suggested adoption, but I do recall the feeling of resignation that I had to summon when we started the process. I did not share her desire to adopt, but I desperately wanted her to know that I loved and supported her.
Like Ignatius, we found ourselves having to trust in the mercy of God. I did not yet feel love for the child we would welcome into our home. But I prayed for the grace to learn how to love.
That love has unfolded like massive waves crashing on the beach of my consciousness. We adopted once, then twice, then a third time. With each transformative experience, I have felt my heart grow larger, and I pray each day that I may serve the beautiful purpose God has for each of these children. My heart is not only full—it is fuller than it could have been without those cannonballs.
The wise speaker recalled the adage that we can see the seeds in an apple, but only God sees the apples contained within the seeds. I continue to pray for the grace of my cannonball moments, that God will (in God’s good time) continue to show me the fruits.
Then use the hashtag #31DayswithIgnatius on your favorite social media to share your cannonball moments.