My turn to throw a curve ball at Margaret! “I consider you one of the greatest experts in Ignatian Spirituality. Is there something about your personality, upbringing or experience that prepared you to become a ‘spiritual guru’?”
I’m sorry to disillusion you Paul, but I am neither an expert on Ignatian spirituality, nor a “guru,” spiritual or any other kind. Much as I appreciate your kindness, I think we should stay with the truth.
Landmarks, which became Inner Compass in the US, was a complete accident. It was never meant to be a book, and I wrote the entire first draft as a series of handouts for a group that met for quiet days, and before I had ever thought of making the Exercises myself, let alone of publishing a book. Somehow that book seems to have pressed the right kind of buttons in many readers, who, like myself, were groping after practical everyday approaches to the profound reaches of Christian spirituality.
I have often asked myself why that was. I think there are several factors. First, I write with the voice of a woman, and of one not involved with the institutional church as such – a lay person who actually sits very lightly to most things ecclesiastical. (Lopez and I had some interesting conversations around this as we journeyed together). My feeling is that the power of the Exercises lies precisely in their genius in engaging with the dynamic of the spiritual journey that most (not all) ordinary pilgrims can identify with. Actually, I think my freedom from a lot of RC baggage and lack of a Catholic upbringing has been a huge advantage.
But to return to your question, no, not personality or upbringing, but experience would be the key. An “expert” is simply one who has experienced, if my Latin still serves me. In Ignatian spirituality I found a process that resonates with, and nourishes my lived experience. When that happens, the rest just follows.
It’s not anything “special” that holds the key. Quite the reverse – it is plain “ordinariness,” because that is where you discover that the ordinary is almost always extra-ordinary.