The faith history exercise … offers a way of remembering the highs and lows of one’s walk through life – with the express intention of seeking God in the process. In many ways it is a kind of examen, but applied to a substantial period of time. It is best to begin the exercise by asking God to show you what God wants you to see. The purpose of the exercise is not to get a stage by stage account of your relationship with God, but rather to allow God to show you where God has been in your life. That is to say, do not worry too much about creating the most accurate account of the development of your faith, rather concentrate on the possibility of encountering God in the process of remembering.
Margaret Blackie, Rooted In Love, Kindle Location 475-480
My plan was to review Margaret Blackie’s book in one post. There is too much good stuff there to do justice to it with just one post, however. So I expect to write several, and share some of what I have found to sustain my soul on this inner journey to which each one of us is called.
Going over one’s faith history is usually done early on in the Spiritual Exercises. It is one way of discovering Godde in the nooks and crannies of one’s life. The most thorough faith history I ever wrote was in the early days of my graduate studies in pastoral studies with LIMEX. I can remember doing another quite exhaustive one while following the Exercises in Daily Life with Creighton Onlline. Every time I do a weekend or an eight-day retreat, I return to my faith history, expecting to revisit familiar moments.
I know for instance that revisiting my early youth fills me with anxiety. A sort of marble cake when I was doing well in school, until my mother started having lovers, left us for six months, and my father warned me that he intended to abandon the three of us if she did not return. Godde was there with us though, and I did not know.
Following Margaret’s advice, I returned to my faith history. This time, as suggested, I asked Godde to show me what I should revisit. A time in my life came back to my mind, a time which weighs on my heart more than any other. So I brushed it aside. No, this does not fit in my faith history. My mind went blank for a while as I watched the turquoise ocean dancing in front of me.
I resumed the task a couple of times. The same period returned to my mind. Each time, I swept it aside. Finally, I exclaimed, Why is it the only thing coming up from the past? And the answer came, Because Godde was there. Godde was there, really? When I felt so lost, so desperate, so thirsting for an unattainable love? Doing one stupid thing after another?
The bleakness of these days came handy, however, much later, during those ten years or so that I walked with homeless men and women. I could love drug-addicts because I knew it was pure fluke that I had not been one of them. I recognized my heart in their own. I knew the love they longed for. I had lived it as well. There was a place in my heart for most of them, thanks to those years when I was a lost soul and had not yet been found.
Once I realized that Godde was with me during those dark years, once I saw that Her love was there with me every step of the way, whatever I did, wherever I was, then the years suddenly turned luminous. They were no longer lost, but a sort of treasure, a gift, since wherever Godde is, love is.
Margaret’s book, then, has brought me, among many things, this time of healing, of reconciliation with myself, an opening of my heart to who I was and am, an opening of my heart to others as well, and a moment of loving connection with the One who is so patiently for us to understand how much we are loved, no matter what.
Thank you, Godde. Thank you, Margaret.