My Beloved

My fingers brush the holy water as I enter the church. I’m here for a Gospel meditation, and I linger, imagining the Jordan. Was it shallow or deep, cold or comfortable? I see John the Baptist and crowds of onlookers. Some have already been baptized; others are making a ruckus with some Pharisees. I try to ignore them, refocusing on Jesus’ mother, who is seated on a large rock under a tree. I approach and […]

Questions to Ask in Contemplating the Nativity

Ignatian contemplation allows the Spirit to bring to light important aspects of the Gospel that inform us along our spiritual journeys. This year, my contemplation on the Nativity—which I shared here—highlighted the following: Amidst the hustle and bustle of the marketplace, no one saw Mary in labor with the Christ Child. Where have I missed the opportunity to respond to Christ among us? Mary did not become upset when there were no rooms at the […]

Contemplating the Nativity

Every year, as Advent and Christmas roll around, I return to the contemplation on the Nativity in the Spiritual Exercises. In this contemplation, St. Ignatius invites us to reflect on the Nativity from the viewpoint of a maidservant accompanying the Holy Family. I imagine it this way. The journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem has been long—winding miles through hill and valley. The sun is setting as we enter the gates of Bethlehem. We are hot, […]

Listening for God Through Our Imaginations

It never ceases to amaze me the abundant number of ways God speaks to us. I still remember the surprise of learning that not only can we listen for God through our imaginations, but that this prayer had a name: Ignatian contemplation or imaginative prayer. My first exposure to imaginative prayer came during high school religion classes. Several times a year, one of my religion teachers would guide us through an imaginative prayer experience. She’d […]

Walking with Mary

Two travelers are on a road in the hill country. One is Mary, who’s thinking: “I’m so excited! The Messiah is coming! I feel as if I could dance the entire trip ahead of me. I can’t wait to see Elizabeth.” Imagine you’re the other traveler: an apprentice carpenter. You’ve been charged with an important duty: caring for your boss’s beloved. Can you keep her safe? Just look at her! She’s practically running! What’s her […]

Imaginative Prayer: Lunch with Christ

As a child I felt God’s presence strongly. I remember digging in my sandbox with Jesus or reading a picture book with him. It seemed every good thing was a delight God had left just for me to discover. I felt assured of God’s love as I felt his presence close. Now, as an adult, the world’s volume is much louder than it was for me as a child. It has become more difficult to […]

God Right Here

This story is inspired by Matthew 14:22, following the feeding of the five thousand. Jesus made me get into the boat with the other disciples. I didn’t want to go. I wanted to stay with him on the shore, savoring the miracle I’d just seen. Thousands of people fed! I wished I could just stand there at his side, watching. He made us get into the boat, and I sat with my legs crossed, my […]

The Dark Night of Seeds

One of Jesus’ parables about the Kingdom of God depicts us as various types of soil into which the sower plants seeds. I found myself imagining that I was the seed instead. It led to a fruitful contemplation about heaven. I see myself planted deep in the earth, with its darkness and grime. I cannot see heaven above, but I know in faith that it is there, somewhere. I wait. God’s living water cracks the […]

An Imaginative Reflection on the Crucifixion

When we heard that Jesus had been arrested, I went with Mary to help her through this terrible time. She had a premonition that something bad was going to happen. I don’t know how she knew, but I’ve learned to trust her instincts. I hope this won’t end badly, but standing outside the governor’s palace, we can hear the words, “Crucify him!” My blood runs cold, and I can feel Mary stagger and sag into […]

A Certain Place

The room where I quilt, the arms of my husband, and sitting in my inherited wingback chair are some of my favorite places. Jesus was praying in a certain place, and his friends asked him to teach them to pray. (Luke 11:1) I always focused on the words of the Our Father that follow. But today it was that certain place that stopped me in my mental tracks. Perhaps the first teaching on prayer, for […]

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