Follow love

The other day, on my Ignatian spiritual direction course, we were asked to recall a prayer - any prayer - we had done using Ignatian imaginative contemplation. Since this is not the way I am called to pray (despite my vivid imagination my way of prayer has always been silent, without words or images), I only ever do this if I'm in a group doing a guided meditation. And so for "material" I found myself travelling back to the thirty days retreat I made eleven years ago this month in preparation for my final profession of vows.

During the Second and Third Weeks of that retreat I was able to use my imagination to enter into the Gospel passages and spend time with Jesus, seeking to increase my love for him and, in the process, become who I was contemplating. The times of imaginative prayer were often short, startling, vivid bursts encased within a longer time of stillness and silence; inevitably, over a decade later, I find that I only remember certain parts or details or simply broad brushstrokes - and yet, I know that what I remember is what I need to remember.

And so, as we settled into the reflection I simply opted for the first memory which came to me: the time of prayer in which I sat in Peter's boat, talking with him, until Jesus came along, called Peter to follow him and then turned to me...

Reflecting on this later, and wondering at my sudden, unprompted choice, I decided to dig out my journal and read and re-live this particular time of prayer in greater depth. The graces, calls and insights from a retreat - especially a long one - are never just for that time, but intended to remain with us, strengthening and deepening. And, I felt, there must surely have been a reason for this meditation rather than any other popping into my head.

So I read through, discovering and recalling the details and repetitions which I had forgotten. And I also discovered a crucial thing: in my memory I had fused two separate times of prayer into one; this one, the time when Jesus called me to follow and be with him had coalesced with a later meditation when Jesus missioned or sent me out. And yet, fundamentally, the two were not so different: they were both about love. In the first,  I was called by Jesus, Love Incarnate, to be with him, to love and learn how to love; as I wrote in my journal, I was called to "follow love". In the second, I was sent to proclaim that love, to proclaim the One whom I loved. How? Through living and loving with joy and generosity.

As I said earlier, this meditation was only half-remembered: but what I had remembered was that call to love, which is also what I need to keep remembering and being reminded of. It is a call I share in common with over two thousand women around the world, the call which is at the centre of any call to belong to God as an RSCJ... at times a real challenge, but fundamentally a deep joy; it is also our mission; and really, that is all I need to remember...