by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde
“Our only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads to God’s deepening life in me.” – from St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Principle and Foundation of the Spiritual Exercises
I remember turning 40. I sold my house of 16 years, paid off all of my debt, and three days after my actual birthday, set out on a 6 week trek to five different countries in Africa. I had no real idea of what lay ahead of me, only the deepest desires of my heart, and an inkling of God’s nudges, guiding me. I was single. I wanted to be married. I had been invited. I felt a call. I was, for all intents and purposes, on an Ignatian Journey, before I really knew who St. Ignatius was. I was listening to a call of freedom, and a deepening of Love within me. In hindsight, it was a spiritual journey of epic proportions that brought me, almost a decade later, here. To Loyola, to this blog post, to this sense of freedom, peace, and trust in God’s purpose for me– a spiritual director in St. Paul, Minnesota.
What does it mean to speak this phrase: “I want and choose what better leads to God’s deepening life in me”? It seems a radical notion on one hand — a humble forfeiture of human will relinquished before a power that can so easily evade or stupefy or be silent. God. “I want and I choose what leads me to God’s deepening life in me?” Repeating that, I am baffled. I ask: but what does that mean? Where will speaking that sentence take me? How in the world could I so readily assume a stance of submission and acceptance of God in me? Whew. Ignatius knew the answer, just as Jesus had known: by setting out on journey and trusting in who God made them to be.
On Saturday of last week, I completed a nine-month Ignatian Exercise program called “Finding God in All Things” through the Franciscan Spirituality Center in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. The experience traveling to and from LaCrosse every month, waking to pray as many days in the week as Grace allowed, listening and leaning in to the Creator and Love’s presence around me, was not unlike that blind, but graced trek over the continent of Africa. I was being lead. I was held. I grew in profound and simple ways that expanded my sense of who God is and who I am in God.
Through imaginative prayer and daily encounter with divine humans in my immediate circumstances, I grew in proximal reality to a living God. I met Jesus not only in the river Jordan –when I was chest deep in the water next to John being baptized, but likewise in the disguise of an abused and battered person who came to seek employment at the bakery my husband and I own. I heard the son of God call my name when I was traversing a gravel road in rural Nebraska, and the road became an Emmaus encounter in real time. I went, not unlike Ananias, to the house of a potential oppressor, to be changed and to experience the opening hearts of others, advocating for a transgender child in my daughter’s school.
I met Jesus time and again. I grew in knowledge of God’s love and will for me.
At this juncture, I know: I am excited for where this road is leading me, and I repeat, with St. Ignatius: I want and I choose what better leads me to God’s deepening life within me.
In April of this year, Loyola Spirituality Center celebrated 40 years as a Spirituality center serving spiritual seekers in the tradition of St. Ignatius of Loyola. As this 41st year commences, our staff has identified a theme to mark this entrance into our next decade of life: Re-imagining the Spiritual Journey.
What does that theme mean to you? What inkling of Love deepening in you are you feeling called to explore or respond to? How does an Ignatian Journey appeal to your heart’s deepest longings? Come and check us out. http://loyolaspiritualitycenter.org/