Yesterday, I went on a little hike with mom. She wanted to get out and walk since today she’s in a surgery that will mean less activity in the next few weeks. She talked to me about a possible negative side effect of her surgery and said, “I kind of hope that doesn’t happen.” That struck me as funny because I would have said, “Man, I don’t want that to happen!” She said, ever practical, “Well, I can’t do anything about it – it either is or isn’t. No sense in fighting it.” She isn’t denying it or giving in to it, just sitting in a neutral stance. A rather realistic and mature view.
It made me think of the Ignatian Exercises that I’m engaged in now. St. Ignatius talks about living with “holy indifference”. That’s not dismissing or denial or even not caring. It’s an open-handed way of living. Trusting that God is at work and desiring whatever will bring us closer to God. The Principle and Foundation, written by St. Ignatius, says “The goal of our life is to live with God forever. God, who loves us, gave us life. Our own response of love allows God’s life to flow into us without limit. All the things in this world are gifts of God, presented to us so that we can know God more easily and make a return of love more readily. As a result, we appreciate and use all these gifts of God insofar as they help us develop as loving persons. But if any of these gifts become the center of our lives, they displace God and so hinder our growth toward our goal. In everyday life, then, we must hold ourselves in balance before all of these created gifts insofar as we have a choice and are not bound by some obligation. We should not fix our desires on health or sickness, wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or short one. For everything has the potential of calling forth in us a deeper response to our life in God. Our only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads to God’s deepening his life in me.” (modern translation)
I’m certainly not there yet. I honestly DO want health, success, long life, enough money. I know that “everything has the potential of calling for in me a deeper response to God”, but I still find that I crave comfort, ease. I’m grateful to see that God is showing me the possibility of how I could get to a place of greater open-handedness.