I’ve met some of my closest friends when I was attending parties I really didn’t want to attend. I’ve had some of my most profound spiritual experiences at events other people absolutely insisted I come along to. Some of the most fun and memorable moments I’ve had with my family have come only after my husband’s steady but loving insistence that I participate.
Being a card-carrying introvert, most of the time I would much prefer a night in with a good book or movie to going out with friends. For me, much like many of my fellow introverts, just showing up is something of a sacrifice. And yet, it is often those times when I put aside my preferences and “just show up” that great things happen.
Many of us have had the life experience of dragging ourselves out to some event we had been dreading, only to find ourselves unexpectedly participating in something amazing. These sorts of experiences can also be found all over the Bible. For example, many Old Testament prophets were reluctant participants, but their words converted entire nations. In the New Testament, Joseph might be seen initially as a reluctant participant, but he put his reservations aside and ultimately became the earthly father of Jesus. That’s pretty awesome!
I don’t know if St. Ignatius was an introvert, but I do get the sense that he knew about the importance of just showing up. Throughout the Spiritual Exercises, a lot of emphasis is placed on the first part of prayer—setting up the time and place. Ignatius guides the retreatant through the preparatory prayer and then sets guidelines for “showing up” in the midst of a contemplation through composition of place. Placing the retreatant in the moment, in the right place with an open spirit, was clearly important to the wise saint.
Sometimes showing up in life can be hard, and we can be reluctant participants in the events that transpire around us. And yet, with a little faith and perseverance, sometimes God can take these reluctant yeses and make something amazing from them. Jesus is asking us to just show up. He’ll take care of the rest.