After a long kiss goodbye, Fred drove off. I brushed off my nervousness and unpacked my things. It didn’t take long–just clothes, knitting needles and yarn, my Bible, notebook and a copy of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. No computer, no other books, no phone. For the next week, even though I was with friends at the retreat centre, the only person I would talk to was God and my spiritual director, a young Jesuit named Sylvester.
At our first meeting, Sylvester asked me to tell him a bit about my life. Then he suggested a few passages of scripture to begin praying with. He said, “Spend an hour praying with the passage. Don’t study it; imagine yourself in it. Allow yourself to enter into a conversation the Trinity is having about you.”
That evening, I went into the chapel to pray. I could still smell the incense from Vespers. After that service, Sylvester had turned the crucifix and large Bible on the altar to face the Blessed Sacrament. Then he genuflected.
I bowed my head and prayed, as Ignatius directed, asking for the grace that all my “intentions, actions and operations be directed purely to the service and praise of His Divine Majesty.” My heart beat with longing that it be so.
I turned to John 14 and was drawn by Jesus’s statement, “I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” I pictured myself completely immersed in love. It felt spacious, safe and peaceful.
Further on in the passage, Jesus said five times that, after he died, he would come back and show himself to them. Was Jesus promising to show himself to me too?
The next morning, I sat on my bed and prayed, cradling a cup of hot tea. In Isaiah, the Trinity exuberantly invited me to come and satisfy my soul with rich food. God’s word would not return empty; God promised, “I will accomplish what I desire.”
What did the Trinity desire for me?
Sylvester told us that morning in a short lecture, “God is love and love requires a recipient. You can’t just love. You have to love something or someone. God is love because God is Three Persons–Father, Son and Holy Spirit–loving each other. And God created us to share their love.”
I felt a flutter in my chest. God’s great desire–more than anything else–was that I be shown that love for eight days straight.
As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. — Isaiah 55:10-11