“You show me the path of life; in your presence these is fullness of joy.” (Psalm 16)
The path of life is a circuitous one. Chittister describes this in the seventh chapter of “Called to Question,” but I understand this reality from my own life. I spiral through times of joy and sorrow, fear and anguish, delight and peace. Sometimes the spiral feels out of control, sometimes it feels like a gentle path.
“The path of life is much more than a simple career placement. It is an attitude of mind, an orientation of heart, a quality of soul, a sum of all learnings.” (Called to Question, pg 59)
Life is about learning, growing. More than the reality of the situations we are in, life is about what we learn from the circumstances. It is in the learnings that we grow and become fully human. Life tests us and we should test life back. Ignatius called this process, “self-examination.” He wasn’t talking about looking at one’s hand or face. He was talking about a daily process of considering all of one’s actions and thoughts, and wondering about them – how did my actions and my words work today toward the love and compassion of God? How have I been loving and compassionate, or not? Where are the broken places in my life? And what have I done to mend them? And where are the broken places in the world around me, and what have I done to mend those?
Life is a spiritual journey, Chittister writes, which takes a lifetime to bring to fullness of the spiritual self. It takes a lifetime to grow one’s spiritual insight. But in the process we discover that how we “see” things comes from the center of the soul. She writes:
“We don’t ‘find’ spirituality or ‘get’ spirituality or ‘develop’ spirituality. We are simply spiritual creatures who spend a great deal of our lives trying to avoid or deny of ignore the implications of that.”
Perhaps it is a paradox that even the reluctance to surrender to new growth shapes us and informs our spiritual beings. We cannot become static. Propelled from the inside out the search continues. This is our inherent nature, the core of our spiritual beings, our true self, moving within us, moving us along the path of life.