Ignatius teaches another practice, a habit that can help us clear the approaches to God. He suggests that we return in our minds and hearts to moments of awareness of beauty, of connection, of God. Revisiting these experiences can deepen the gifts that they brought, allow greater insight, deeper healing, more grace. Some of these moments may have seemed insignificant, pausing momentarily to watch a beautiful sunset, for me with a toddler in the house it is that brilliant smile of recognition in the morning if I go in to him, “nanna” he says and puts his arms up to me. For me these glimpses of something beyond myself and my so limited understanding are often outside in nature, watching the ocean waves roll in, no two the same, sensing they have made the same journey for billions of year before I existed and will continue to do so for many after me, or standing on top of a mountain, they make me feel small but also connected, I am part of something much, much, bigger, it is a moment of feeling truly alive. Sometimes these God moments are powerful and cannot be forgotten, perhaps a moment of inspiration that leads to a total transformation of how you live, like falling in love. These moments are pure gift, we cannot make them happen though I suspect we can miss them midst much business or simply by being blind, failing to stop and notice what simply is.
Settle yourself quietly and remember, build up again a picture of what happened, what was going on for you outside and within, reimagine it as if it were happening right now, what is this experience like, how does it make you feel? How does it affect you? What is God like in this? What is the gift ? what can it teach you? Be open to whatever wants to show itself or teach you, be curious and know that God was and is present with you in this moment, in this memory. Cherish this re-membering and imagine a conversation with God about it
Above all, as with the reflections I wrote of earlier, do not judge yourself or others, don’t criticise, simply notice what was going on, what happened and how you responded. What does it tell you about yourself, what does it tell you about God?
This repetition is not about trying to make something happen, nor about nostalgia, it is not about manipulating God, nor is it about trying to hold onto something, it is about realising that what was true in that moment is still true now and so how do I want to live my life in the light of that truth. It is not about grabbing or achieving but about being more fully alive, more readily noticing God’s activity in my life. I remember watching a programme about Sister Wendy the nun who wrote and spoke much about artworks, she had a profound encounter with God when she was a small child and that was enough to set the direction for her life. Mother Teresa , we now know, had no felt sense of God for 30 years, but a previous moment of connection again was sufficient to inspire her whole life. What was true in that brief moment of connection is always true. God is still present, we can learn to notice, to appreciate to receive these gifts of presence. And maybe that is what Paul was talking about when he wrote to the Philippians, Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.