The students have “WNL” (Wednesday Night Liturgy) weekly during the summer session. Tonight they did Lectio Divina, and naturally, I could not stay away. (I had some last-minute packing up in my office to boot.)
The Scripture they gave was John 17:1-11. We “paired” off in groups of three, and went our separate ways for 45 minutes after an opening prayer. I had a grad student and a recent graduate in my group. But I was feeling lazy and not particularly inclined to lead. Hence a good bit of silence with the readings. The recent graduate took over. Good for her, as I would have been happy with three-quarters of an hour of contemplation.
The first thing that came to mind was the John Foley song from Neither Silver Nor Gold, his setting of John 17. And it was less about hearing the song, and more about seeing myself as a young man, home from college, having borrowed those four vinyl records from the Newman Center and playing them on a old turntable at my parents’ house. It must have been thirty-three or four summers ago.
As the phrase “may be one” echoed in my head, I wondered: am I really the same person? During a conversation the other night, one of my non-church friends remarked about my upcoming retreat and studies this June. “It will change you,” she said.
I was taken aback by that comment. I’m not used to profound questions coming from outside the church. Maybe I could be listening better. So there was the echo of that in my reflection tonight. I know I’ve changed. But how much?
Now this is eternal life,that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.
My initial sense of Ignatian spirituality is that it is all about knowing God. Verse three was almost insistent as the recent graduate read the third time. This is what the calling is that I sense and feel: to come to know God and come to know the one he sent, Jesus.
How do I get to know you? I asked. What do you make of this episode?
I came home from the parish close to ten tonight. Both women were in the master bedroom watching a dvd. Dishes piled high in the kitchen and I had a request from the young miss to make some pasta. I’ve had a headache on and off most of the day. I still have clothes to pack. I remembered one important email I forgot to send from my laptop–where the files were I needed to attach.
So I was feeling inclined to grumble, but I held back on the vocalization. I plugged in the computer, which has a balky battery that hasn’t been recharging. I boiled some water on an open spot on the stove. I put together a salad for myself. Then my wife started peppering me with questions. But for some reason, I took a deep breath and kept an even temper, in a situation where, though I’m disinclined to blow up (like I might when I was a college student), I might have gotten sarcastic (like I do often online).
And I felt a sense of peace settle over me. Then I went back to the laptop, and for the first time in five weeks, the battery was charging. Amazing. Must have been jarred into service when I dropped it earlier tonight. I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t forgotten that one last communication. I would have spent the summer session glued to a wall socket.
And so getting to know Jesus means I will be led on roads I didn’t want to go, and will dismiss attitudes that are more burdens than useful supplies. And I will find small surprises. Most surprising of all is that I seem to be continuing to change. And that’s a good thing. Especially for the people who must suffer my occasional nonsense.