If I had done it the quick way, then I would be nearly done, however, I have barely begun. Ignatius's spiritual exercises can be done at The Jesuit Center in Wernersville in just over 30 days. I lack the money, time, job, and understanding wife to go away for a month. Margaret graciously allows me 8 days to be in silence each summer, but 32 is pushing it.
Ignatius had annotations and the 19th states the possibility for people like myself to do the "exercises in everyday life." This means I pray for an hour 7 times a week and then meet with my spiritual director. That counts as one day. My director is not Jesuit nor Catholic, but like myself he is an anglo-catholic and he trained at Wernersville. When I met him this summer, he told me that he had no time in the evening or on weekends. So I fit him in on Thursday mornings before I go to work, after which I go to my class. It is a long day leaving the house at 6:30 and getting home around 9:30. 28 days in and I am beginning to sense what it means to be in retreat during everyday life.
Getting up early for prayer each day, exhausted me, so after two weeks I adjusted. An Hour on Thursday-- you've got to be kidding. Now, I am finding a rhythm to this retreat. I pray twice on either Saturday or Sunday. Mondays and Wednesdays there is time when I get home from work, after a short nap. Tuesday I pray when Margaret is off at choir practice. Last Friday I got up early, because we had a date planned in the evening. I am still off balance as I fit prayer around exercise, teaching, Margaret, friends, music, gardening.... you know everyday life. But a good friend said, I looked better today, and I believe her.
Yesterday I did a "consideration." It took me to a place where I could imagine loving a group of seven students where love was low. Today the class went smoothly and one student who had been convinced I was the devil (she did say that), apologized to me. The prayer the night before had placed me in a frame of mind to accept it. Well, the smile that came with the apology was amazing too. So I gave her and the other dreaded six students a freshly baked whole wheat roll which had had diced hot peppers mixed into the dough. It was a blessing. I reflected on it this afternoon as I prayed with a passage in Romans-- those who follow the spirit are adopted by God. As I prayed I thought that I needed to thank the staff member who intervened between the student and myself yesterday. That will fit into my everyday life tomorrow.