Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, May 7, 2015
meditating Jesus – unknown artist
My Personal “How” Circle—and Ignatian Prayer
I read the passage from Luke 1 again tonight. I still am not too excited about the Annunciation passage, but that was what Margaret Silf next suggested as a prayer opportunity in her book Inner Compass. So, I did it.
This assignment had to do with the “How” circle of my life. (It did not mention the “How” circle of Mary’s life, but I immediately went there.)
What is a “How” circle, you ask? Great question! The “How” circle is that area of my life where I have some ability to exercise some choice, as Silf suggests. Things do continue to happen, it’s true. However, I often have the ability to decide how I will respond to them.
So, given these parameters, Mary had a “How” circle, too. What were her choices, following the Angel Gabriel’s announcement? Fascinating exercise, positing some of Mary’s immediate and long-term choices. (For instance, what would she tell her betrothed, Joseph? And how ought she to let him know?)
As fascinating as that may be, that wasn’t the assignment for tonight. This particular assignment involved me, and drawing several concentric circles around my “Center.”
The outermost circle has the label “Where am I?” and involves all of the things/facts and circumstances in my life that I cannot change. For example, I was born in Chicago to two college graduates, the youngest in my immediate family. I am at the tail end of the Baby Boomer generation. I am nearsighted. These are indisputable facts. Simply speaking, where I am.
I’ve already mentioned the next concentric circle, named “How am I?” Last, the innermost circle is labeled “Who am I,” and involves the center of my being where I am who I truly am. In and of myself, and before God. This is also the circle where I am the most true and the most myself. The most stripped away. The most honest and open, if you will.
Yet, my traitorous thoughts keep wandering back to Mary. What does her “Where” circle look like? Is it compounded by the choices she makes, as a result of the Annunciation?
The concentric circles of Mary and my concentric circles seem to be more of a Venn diagram, overlapping. Mingling. Are most things in my life static, and already chosen for me? Were they chosen for Mary? How about both sets of “Who” circles, and how honest and open am I? How honest and open is Mary?
I feel awkward about this meditation. It brings up SO many questions, questions about which I have only a limited ability to answer.
I’m going to pray. You can join me, if you would like. Dear Lord, gracious God, this meditation distresses me, kind-of, sort-of. My mind keeps on flitting away from myself, and going to Mary. But—that’s good, isn’t it? Especially in Ignatian prayer? Lord, help me to orient my mind in this imaginative way of praying. Lord, in Your mercy, hear my prayers.
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