I took part in a conference on spirituality of the heart in Luxembourg last week. I was asked to represent the Irish Jesuit Communications team (the Jesuits are a Christian organisation who believe that God can be found in all things). I flew over on Luxair with the editor of a publishing company. He was older than me with plenty of experience in helping thousands of people deepen their faith over many years. We journeyed together, led meditation one morning, met international colleagues, talked about a number of initiatives and laughed a lot.
We were continuously reminded that the heart works in slow ways and that we need great inner freedom to make real change.
During the conference, I meditated on the painting below by a Parisian artist and I wrote a poem expressing my desire to accompany young people.
Surrounded by waves of extinction,
hugging his knees in desperation,
he senses an ugly hooded thing,
I see goodness and light within,
the secret way out of his state,
is to treat himself like a mate.
My eyes were opened when I returned to Ireland and met to have dinner with my family. I was delighted to hear that my two sisters enjoyed their time at a Christian retreat centre. It took place in an atmosphere of silence and comprised a number of elements: reflections, guided meditations, prayer, an opportunity to meet with a spiritual guide and the celebration of mass (Manresa).
It was in fact the first time that my sisters attended such a religious gathering in years. Although they would have preferred more mindfulness exercises incorporated into the day, they gave positive feedback overall.
Being a ‘contemplative in action’ means that we respect our need for stillness so that we can live life with energy and vitality. It also takes courage to risk our peace and calm in the dirt and messiness. We are human and fragile and it is normal to reach our limits. We can then return to the stillness found in the depth of our hearts.