Tag Archives: imagery

Seeking the Light—in Ignatian Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, May 28, 2015

Light be a light to the world

Seeking the Light—in Ignatian Prayer

I was a bit puzzled by the third step in the daily Ignatian prayer process, as interpreted by Margaret Silf. I know it’s a small thing, but I did not quite get what she meant. Or rather, one particular word she used.

Here’s the step, as found in Silf’s book on Ignatian spirituality and prayer, Inner Compass: Light-seeking: “Ask God to help you see and understand how His love has been working within you today. This is a gift of the Spirit, and it has been promised to all who sincerely seek it.”

I consider myself theologically knowledgeable, in basic terms. But here—Silf’s use of “light-seeking” interchangeably with “God’s love?” Perhaps I am overthinking what she’s doing here. I probably am.

What I sometimes do with concepts I have difficulty understanding is this: I break it down. I take it apart, in pieces. It’s then that I come to some understanding of the separate pieces. Yes, I have some idea of what constitutes “God’s love.” And, I am so moved by Silf’s imagery of “Light-seeking.” Thought-provoking mental image!

I’ve come to a comfort level of not-knowing. Or, at least not knowing in full. If I can’t square the phrase “God’s love” with “Light-seeking,” it’s okay. God will still love me just as much if I don’t understand some things about God. No one has a full understanding, anyhow. I suspect that I am in a better (read, more open-minded) position, now that I realize I just don’t know stuff.

And, that’s okay. God understands. God still gifts me with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, no matter how much or how little theological background I may have. I just need to be honest, open and willing. Willing to be open, with an open mind and heart. Amen. Amen.


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

My Connection to the Stars. Or, Not.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, May 8, 2015

moon and clouds

My Connection to the Stars. Or, Not.

I began the next exercise in the book Inner Compass this evening, in chapter 2. The author Margaret Silf encouraged her readers to use a passage from 1 Kings 19 in meditation and prayer. Where Elijah chooses Elisha, and there is some business with yoked oxen.

Somehow, I did not connect as closely with Elijah and Elisha, and the specifics of the passage. However—in an instant, I entered into the preliminary imagery and meditation Silf described:

“Begin by imagining yourself standing outside your own home, beneath a brilliant, starry sky. Take in the splendor and the immense space stretching out above you, beyond your grasp, beyond measurement. . . . Now find a familiar constellation. Out of the infinity, there is something recognizable—it pinpoints your location exactly in time and space.” [1]

Boy, was I able to visualize this in my imagination. I was immediately outside, face upturned, searching the sky for a constellation. I thought of Orion. I’ve almost always been able to find Orion’s belt when stargazing. Except—on this occasion.

Here in the Chicago area, the stars are less bright. Or, the street lights and various other lights of the city and suburbs mask the brilliant evening sky. Or, something in between the two. I usually see only a small portion of the stars that others tell me about. Others who live in rural areas, far away from the bright city lights. (I hear tell of the glorious wonders of the star-filled heavens.)

But that was not all. In my imagination, I stood in the middle of an open grassy space where I ought to have been able to see some stars, at least. Wouldn’t you know, all the eyes of my imagination could see were clouds. Over almost the whole sky. Although, I did spy the moon, struggling to shine through the cloud cover. The clouds tumbled along in a hurry, and the dim light from the moon flickered. Brighter, then more subdued. I could catch a quick glimpse of a star or two, but then they would be covered up again as the clouds continued to roll across the dark panorama of the sky.

Try as I would to follow Silf’s instructions, I just could not focus on a single star, much less a constellation. That detour at the beginning of my prayer exercise short-circuited the exercise for me. Or, at least sent me in a different direction.

I vaguely understood that my place in the heart of God was hidden. Somewhat. God is still there, of course, just like the moon behind the clouds. But, I am still struggling to find my place, find that unique place that is all mine, in the heart of God.

God willing, I may find that place. And meanwhile, I am still on the journey with God, even though God is hidden. Sometimes.

I didn’t even really consider 1 Kings 19 tonight. I was too caught up with the starry preamble. But, that’s okay, I think. Wasn’t it? I hope so. I pray so. Lord, in Your mercy, hear my prayer.


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

[1] Silf, Margaret, Inner Compass: Introduction to Ignatian Spirituality (Chicago: Loyola Press, 1999), 13.

Day #9 – Melting Pot? Salad Bowl? Point of Prayer!

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, February 27, 2015

children heart illustration

Day #9 – Melting Pot? Salad Bowl? Point of Prayer!

Multi-cultural America is sometimes called the melting pot. This imagery resonates with me especially well because my grandfather emigrated to this country in the early years of the twentieth century. He and his family arrived on a steamer, entering New York City through Ellis Island. (I remember him telling me how vividly he remembered seeing the Statue of Liberty from the deck of the steam ship.)

But, what about another image? What about a big salad bowl? How different flavors “swap around,” as Mark Twain might say. Especially in a large city like Chicago, such diversity becomes second-nature. Automatic.

I think of the hospital where I served as an on-call chaplain for seven years, on the north side of Chicago. That hospital was located in a ZIP code (60625) that was one of the most diverse postal codes in the country. And, that was according to the United States Census Bureau. Multi-cultural, yet also diverse in just about every other way that comes to mind. In terms of ethnic origin, languages spoken, faith traditions celebrated, as well as economic basis. And more. I never knew who would be in that next room I visited. It was an exciting place to work.

In terms of a diverse population, the Chicago suburb where I work is another miniature United Nations. The preschool housed at our church has children from a number of backgrounds and nationalities. And—I love it! As the email from #40acts mentioned today, “we all want a safe, clean and happy environment for our children and elders; decent, affordable homes and satisfying jobs; respect and freedom, peace and health, physical as well as spiritual.” Yes, these are wonderful goals, things to strive for and make a reality.

I try to be friendly to most everyone. I really do. Whether it’s a cashier at the grocery store, the man behind the counter at the gas station, or someone in line at the post office, I do try to be pleasant and courteous. I went out of my way to make conversation at lunch time. I ate at a restaurant near my home. It’s owned by a family of immigrants from Greece. I had a good sandwich with really excellent cole slaw on the side. I complimented the owner as I paid my bill, and told her how much I enjoyed it. I think she appreciated the compliment.

Such a simple thing. Being pleasant, kind, and complimentary. What a way for me to be generous! God willing, I’ll continue tomorrow. I hope so. I pray so.

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

(Check out #40acts; doing Lent generously at www.40acts.org.uk )

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

Reading, Pondering, Yearning as I Pray

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, February 17, 2015

moonrise over hills

Reading, Pondering, Yearning as I Pray

I have come to the last prayer suggestion from the book Prayer and Temperament (Different Prayer Forms for Different Personality Types). At least, the last suggestion for one particular personality preference. This suggestion is—yet again—a challenge to me. Not because I dislike the poem mentioned—by no means! However, the poem is lengthy. And takes some pondering.

“The Hound of Heaven” by Francis Thompson was the poem assigned for today. Yes, I have read this before, several times. But I haven’t read it for a few years, at least ten, if I remember correctly. Let me say that I reacted to this strongly. Because of my personal theological point of view as well as from my deep feelings from this first stanza, I was strongly moved. Yes, God is pursuing me. Not only in my external wanderings in life, but as I make my internal, labyrinthine travels, too.

Not only do I find that the imagery hits me deep, but the loveliness of the words draws me in. “In vain my tears were wet on Heaven’s grey cheek.” And, I yearn over these words. These ideas, phrased in such winsome ways.

And yet, the relentless words keep up their march. “I stand amidst the dust o’ the mounded years–/My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap./My days have crackled and gone up in smoke.” I read these words, and tears come to my eyes.

“And is thy Earth so marred,/Shattered in shard on shard?/Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest me.” Beauty, words. You call to my heart; it delights in the rhythms and flows. And at last, “I am He (She?) who thou seekest.” Ah! Home at last! Or, is it that the Hound has reached its quarry?


I feel the words of this poem, down to my bones. Yes, it causes me to pray, to contemplate, to lift my voice/my heart in praise to God.

Thank you, gracious authors, for these prayer suggestions I’ve used during these past two weeks.

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blog, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.