Tuesday, May 26, 2015

What a Difference a Year Makes

It is hard to know what to credit for the recent changes in my life, but I will start with spiritual direction.

Through a Cursillo made a year ago (the cross at left is a Cursillo logo), I was introduced to a spiritual director, Mary Ann McLaughlin. Last May I began meeting with her once a month at her office in the Pastoral Center of the Archdiocese of Boston in Braintree. Mary Ann is a wise and radiant Christian lady completely without bullshit. When she sees something, she says it. She may deliver the barb with finesse, but it’s a barb all the same. I have taken a few barbs in twelve months.

A few barbs and many beauties. I saw the extraordinary power of spiritual direction last summer when a very difficult personal relationship with a long history began turning toward the light. For that turn I credit prayer, recommended by Mary Ann. I have no other explanation for how good that relationship now is. Neither side said, I’m sorry. Neither side got therapy. Just all of a sudden seemingly, there was love.

(Editorial note: At this point, if Mary Ann were commenting, she would say that the only credit goes to Christ. Point taken.)

Change has been more apparent since November, when I began blogging (and blogging and blogging) about a forthcoming pilgrimage on foot to Montreal (425 miles from my home north of Boston). The plan was to leave May 1, 2015. It is now May 26, and I am still at home. What gave?

Last November I was in the throes of deciding what to do with my memwah, as my dear daughters have pronounced it since they were children and I was building my little business Memoirs Unlimited. I imagine now that I conceived the Montreal walk as a way of reexperiencing the great graces of the Camino de Santiago, walked with my younger daughter in 2012—because I was looking for some relief from the aforesaid throes.

It was in November that, at Mary Ann’s suggestion, I began participating in the Ignitian Spiritual Exercises, in a 26-week format for laypeople. After the second meeting of the Exercises and a rocky night’s sleep the decision came to me during 7 a.m. mass to post fictionalized excerpts from my memoir on this blog and call them publication. With that decision (OK, Mary Ann, I’ll credit Christ) a blessed sense of completion and MOVING ON came over me.

In January my spiritual director recommended that I consider a masters in ministry at the Theological Institute in Boston. In March, I was invited to teach an adult ed course on memoir this fall, hosted by Beacon Hill Seminars. In April—out of the blue—a very nice commission for a possible company history book project began to be talked about.

It was in April that I looked across the dinner table toward my dear wife and said, You know that trip to Montreal? I might not do it right now.

Montreal, my wife wisely told me, will always be there.

This evening, then, I begin classes at the Theological Institute, with the first of two summer-session courses, the fantastically titled “Terrible Beauty of the Prophet Jeremiah.” As I sit here in my morning chair the day after Memorial Day, I review the past 24 hours and remember the past year with only gratitude.

All the credit is Christ’s, of course. With a silent hat-tip to a certain spiritual director who would prefer to go unnamed.

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