Written by: David Bayne
I have now been living and sharing life with the Word Made Flesh community in Buenos Aires for two and a half years. While I consider myself a novice in Ignatian spirituality, I am grateful for how the process and practices continue to shape my posture of observing, listening and learning. Since first being introduced to the practice of examen five years ago, the intentional attentiveness of Ignatian spirituality has significantly influenced my discernment and vocational discovery.
The practice of examen has become a regular part of my personal rhythm of life, as well as the rhythm of our community. Pausing to notice and recognize the consolations and desolations in my day or week opens my eyes to God at work in my life and the Kingdom. Recently, the desolations have often overwhelmed the consolations in my life. At the end of the day I often feel inadequate and helpless in my ability to accompany our friends who live in poverty. Whether it is my ongoing struggle to communicate in Spanish, my inability to adequately tutor a young girl struggling with her multiplication tables, or seeing a young friend in tears for the way she was treated by someone close to her, recent desolations like these have left me feeling discouraged, drained and hoping for more.
My tendency is to allow my desolations to paralyze me in hopelessness. What I have recently come to recognize is that these desolations can instead drive me to hope for more in the lives of our friends who live or work on the streets of Buenos Aires. It seems strange to consider desolations as inspirational for the Kingdom. But, I have noticed how some of my recent desolations have inspired and sparked my hopes, dreams, and imagination. Instead of allowing my desolations to leave me feeling hopeless and helpless, my desire is to listen and discern how to respond with hope. Perhaps these desolations of hopelessness can transform into consolations of hopefulness.
I came to Buenos Aires desiring to offer hope to those living and suffering in poverty. The words of Mortimer Arias say it well, “How, then, can we announce the kingdom of God as hope? By hoping. By living and sharing hope. By working with hope. By dying with hope! To be an evangelist is to be a sign of hope, a servant of hope, a minister of hope.” (Announcing the Reign of God, p. 89)
So, this week I press on living and serving in hope amidst both the consolations and desolations that the days ahead will bring. This is my prayer.
Photo: “Barrio 17 de Noviembre” by “Olmovich” from Flickr (Used under Creative Commons license)