I finally received my first royalty cheque from Amazon over a year after I published Stories of an Everyday Pilgrim. The amount? One hundred dollars and seventy-five cents. Humbling.
I always wanted to write a book. Praying the Ignatian Exercises as a retreat in daily life clarified and affirmed my vocation as a writer. I joined a community of writers, dedicated myself to this call, and took seriously my vows to accept critique, edit and forsake other loves.
On October 6, 2015, I submitted my work to the world not knowing how it would be received. To date, there are about four hundred copies of my book in circulation. Not exactly a bestseller.
Why is that? Because of my ability or content? Because I didn’t market it enough? Have I have fallen short in some way? Feeling the weight of my responsibility in this holy calling drove me to produce the best book I could.
Now, when I consider what God is doing–or not doing–with my offering, I remember something Maxine Hancock said. Hancock, an award-winning author, once told this to a class of writers, “It’s God’s job to go wide; it’s our job to go deep.”
This encourages me to keep doing what I’m doing: continue to come to the altar of my laptop with courage and honesty, trusting that what I do is enough.
In response, God asks, “And will you trust that what I do is enough? That this is how wide I want to go and that it’s accomplishing all I want it to? Will you also believe that I am pleased with what you’ve given?”
I think again of what I received from my Ignatian retreat. More than an affirmation of my calling, I received a knowing, deep in the core of my being that I am loved. I am loved by God who is Love loving, the one who changes the world by planting seeds and stories one by one and watching them grow. And that is more than enough.
If I had a message to my contemporaries, it is surely this: Be anything you like, be madmen, drunks, and bastards of every shape and form, but at all costs avoid one thing: success . . . If you are too obsessed with success, you will forget to live. If you have learned only how to be a success, your life has probably been wasted.–Thomas Merton,
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“There were so many things in the [Ignatian Spiritual] Exercises that changed me and transformed me, that showed me who I was… and where I believe God wants me to be,” said actor Andrew Garfield in an interview for America. When Garfield landed the lead role as a Jesuit priest in Martin Scorsese’s Silence, he decided to pray the Ignatian Exercises to prepare himself for the part. Interviewer Brendan Busse writes, “When I asked what stood out in the Exercises, [Garfield] fixed his eyes vaguely on a point in the near distance, wandering off into a place of memory. Then, as if the question had brought him back into the experience itself, he smiled widely and said: ‘What was really easy was falling in love with this person, was falling in love with Jesus Christ. That was the most surprising thing.’”