Beginning with stillness

A few years ago I came across this profile picture frame on Facebook in time for the feast of St Ignatius, which we celebrate today. And I have to confess that I'm rather fond of this simple drawing. Ignatius was, in many ways, a man of action: soldier, preacher, pilgrim, priest; founder, writer, director, mentor, creator and giver of the Exercises. He was a man filled with passion, with energy and zeal, especially for any means of making God better known and loved. And he was a man who achieved a great deal in his 65 years on earth, and whose life and legacy and insights continue to nourish and inspire millions, five centuries later.

But here we see none of that. Here we see him in stillness, quiet and contemplation; the Good News before him, hands open to give - Take, Lord, and receive... and to receive back - You have given all to me; to you, O Lord, I return it... Give me your love and your grace, for this is enough for me. 

Here we see what made Ignatius tick; what gave him his strength and fuelled his inner fire and dynamism. Not activity or exercise or writing 'to do' lists, but stillness, and emptiness before God. And I am reminded of a poster I used to see outside the Oxford Quaker Meeting House: Beginning with stillness my faith becomes action. Beginning with stillness... because it is in here that we receive that love and grace which will be 'enough' for us: 'enough' for whatever call or mission has been entrusted to us; certainly 'enough' to nourish and sustain us as we seek to be contemplatives in action, as Ignatius was.

A happy feast everyone - may today's celebration be a time of grace, renewal and inspiration for mission!