Over the next three days, I’ll feature an extract from near the end of Margaret Silf’s extraordinary introduction to Ignatian Spirituality, Inner Compass. I really, really like her approach.
Carrying God to the world sounds like a tall order -and if we think we really can do that, we may be teetering on the brink of a Messiah complex.
There was a time when I used to think that we could receive grace from God into our own containers, rather like the old days when people used to take their jugs and jars out to the milk cart to get their daily supply of milk. How much you got depended on the size of your container. When it came to grace, I thought, I would receive as much as my heart would hold, and if I hoped for more I would have to do something about expanding my heart. This way of looking at things served me reasonably well for a while (even though, as you can see, it is rather a me-centered approach to the problem) -until the bottom fell out of my bucket.
Maybe there have been times in your life when your system gave out and your tried-and-true methods of doing things just didn’t seem to work anymore. Maybe it was some traumatic experience that brought you to a fuller realization of your own inability to save even yourself, let alone the rest of the world. Or maybe it was just the gradual advance of a sense of personal helplessness when it came to questions arising out of your journey with God. Whatever it was, it quite possibly left you feeling as though your certainties had become unreliable and the jug you had been using to collect your “daily grace” from the milk float of your prayer had sprung a leak.