Angry with God
|As summer approaches, a slower pace of life
is something we all hope for. Retreats are one way of slowing our
lives down. A few years ago, I decided to try the Ignatian
Spiritual Exercises as a retreat option. These Exercises are
usually done at retreat centers in silence. It is customary to
meet once a day with a spiritual director to describe what is happening
within us. The Exercises are adjusted to each person based on how
the Holy Spirit is moving them.
After several days of silence, I experienced intense feelings surfacing. I knew right away what they were related to, because I had been through almost 20 years of severe illness. I was experiencing the grief and anger around the losses of that period. My spiritual director guided me to a spiritual deepening of these feelings by asking me to communicate my honest feelings to God. I found it difficult to communicate my despair and rage to the God who I know loves me and is always working in my life for good. With the help of the director, however, I was able to draw some pictures that expressed my feelings. I held these up to God as my prayer.
Somehow this exercise opened the flood gates of emotion, and I was surprised and ashamed to find myself angry with God. Logically I couldn't figure it out, but physically and emotionally these negative feelings came rushing out. I needed a walk, and decided to saunter down six or seven blocks. On my way back, I had a beautiful and startling experience of God's love. It was as if Jesus was standing in front of me with eyes so deeply compassionate. My heart sensed him asking me to let him take all my grief and anger, and I experienced these dark emotions being taken from me into him. He had no judgment towards me, only a deep longing to relieve me of my burdens and heal my hurts.
Later my director said that this experience was like opening a wound that had developed infection and had to be cleaned.
|She listened intently as I shared the
experience, helping me drink the healing water from Christ's touch,
assuring me that my deep, inner heart needed to be touched by Christ's
love and healing. This experience which occurred during the final
days of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises, remains a touchstone for me
and a well of life to draw from on life's strange journey.
In recent years we are witnessing a growing interest in the Spiritual Exercises. More and more people from many walks of life are turning to the Exercises as a school of prayer and a mode of deepening their relationship with God. The goal of the Exercises is to bring each participant more fully into spiritual freedom and the love of God.
For those of you who can't take several days away from work or home for an Ignatian Retreat, you may want to consider the Retreat in Daily Life beginning in October here in Reno. Each participant receives spiritual direction during this time. For more information, call me at 560-3030 and I will get you a brochure and application.
My hope for all who participate in The Retreat in Daily Life is that God will unite everyone with Christ the Son so that in all ways we seek only to respond to that love which first created us and now wraps us round with total care and concern.
Nancy Pfaff, MA, provides spiritual direction in the Reno area.