Thursday, April 13, 2006

An Experiment

I'm going to try something new for the last four days of Holy Week. Something new with both my experience and my writing.

As some of my readers know, I am in the midst of a 19th Annotation retreat with the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. (What???) St. Ignatius developed the Exercises in the mid-1500s as an imaginative process for exploring the life of Christ and encountering God. His basic idea was that individuals would engage in an intense 30-day retreat, following and praying over a specified range of readings and contemplations, and meeting several times a day with a spiritual director to discuss the internal journey that inevitably happens.

Thankfully for most of us, Ignatius was nothing if not practical, and in a series of Annotations at the end of the Exercises, he mentions that some people might do the Exercises in the context of their daily lives, spending time each day in prayer and meeting with a director periodically. As a result, there are 3-day retreats (more of a sampling, I think), 8-day retreats, 10-day retreats, 30-day retreats, and 19th Annotation retreats, the latter having the potential, as far as I can tell, to run on past eternity for those of us with busy lives and more of a mosying style of moving through the spiritual layers of our lives.

I got started on this retreat in October and am finding it to be one of the most astonishing experiences I've ever had. I meet almost weekly with a Jesuit priest, in the midst of a life that includes teaching in an Orthodox Jewish school and active participation as an elder in the Presbyterian Church. I read the Bible, I read the Exercises, I read a lot of questions, I read novels and plays and poetry, and I rummage through Christ's life and my own. It's about as complicated and surprising and all-encompassing as it sounds.

I thought maybe I'd keep a more detailed and more public (and therefore, perhaps, less detailed) journal of these four days. Maybe I will, maybe I won't. I'll see how it goes. At first I was just going to write an entry each day, but I think I may split it up more. I notice that I myself am not much inclined to read long blogging entries, and I'm guessing that I'm not alone in that. It will be an erratic process -- tonight, for instance, I'm going to the Maundy Thursday service at my church and then to a Seder at the home of one of my stduents, so I expect to be gone from 7 p.m. until very, very late. And this may turn out to be just too personal for the internet. We'll see.

This is one time when I would appreciate it if you would leave a comment if you stop by. It really is a big sort of experiemnt for me and I'd like to know, from the viewpoint of a reader, whether if it's worth pursuing.

6 comments:

Quotidian Grace said...

It sounds very interesting to me, and I hope you will blog on it. I'm reading!

Carol said...

I'd love to hear about your experiences. I often learn from others' expeditions.

Lisa :-] said...

Of course I am on board. I think you do your best writing when you write about spirituality. It's a subject you are passionate about, and it shows.

Short posts are good. As you said, I usually tune out of those huge, long, involved posts after about the first five minutes.

Kathryn said...

Please write about it. I'm fascinated.

Stacy said...

It all sounds fascinating. I'm glad you've chosen to "blog" about this experience and I'm looking forward to checking for updates.

Cynthia said...

I just sat and read all the entries you've posted on Holy Week, and the goosebumps haven't left my skin. When I woke this morning, i was wondering wht I would do to enter the right head space to honor the day. I no longer need to wonder. I've got to go back and read these again. I'll probably do so more than once today. Thank you for this.