I start on a reflective note. Over the last few weeks I have followed the advice I gave in this newsletter at the beginning of Advent. I decided that if the New Year begins with the Advent season, I should then enter into this season as I would any other New Year’s: to reflect, to pray, to plan and to be thoughtful as I would at the beginning of any year. There are many ways to do this but my wife, Kerry, shared a fragment of the Ignatian Excercises that she had been reflecting on. They are as follows. I have read them several times a week over the Advent season. After about 2 weeks of doing this, Kerry asked how I was reflecting on them. She reminded me, and I remind myself and you as you read the piece that we are to truly imagine ourselves near life’s end to get the real import of this.
As I lay dying:
How am I connected?
Am I clear-headed or filled with drugs?
Have I left things in order
Or scattered and unfinished?
Then I ask myself:
What would I like to have done between now and that event?
What will I have been glad to have done or left undone?
What actions or attitudes would make me fear on that bed?
What will seem valuable to me lying there?
What will appear in all its time to be slight or foolish?
Imagine that I could write my own obituary or article reporting my own death:
How does that make me feel?
What would I want to blot out of what I had done?
What would I wish with all my heart I could include?
Then I should consider whether there are some things
I ought to put my mind to.
Thomas Green augments these questions by adding: “At the end of all time how would you explain to the Lord the major decisions of your life?”
This exercise of Ignatious of Loyola is meant for sober, solid, prayerful consideration; especially
l. What would I like to have done between now and that event
2. Then I should consider whether there are some things I ought to put my mind to.
So, a second Happy New Year…filled with good thoughtful reflection, prayer, imaging and thinking though.
I find that it is not so helpful for me to “lean unto my own understanding” but in all my ways to lean on the Lord and acknowledging Him and receive understanding. May that be all of our experience this New Year. And in the season of the Magi, may that also be our Epiphany.