By Becky Eldredge
I am not a monk. The walls of my home echo with children’s voices and conversations with my husband. It was in this boisterous space, with a new baby in my arms, that I made the 19th Annotation of St. Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises almost eight years ago.
It still boggles my mind that my spiritual director didn’t flinch when I asked him to walk me through the Exercises. Perhaps he heard my longing to grow deeper in my relationship with God. Most likely, he noticed the growing restlessness within me during a long season of transition to motherhood, adjusting to my husband being in graduate school, and settling our family 600 miles from our hometown.
|Click here to view the Facebook Live video of Becky Eldredge's visit to the Midwest Jesuits' offices.|
Making the Exercises with the sights, smells, and sounds of motherhood around me transformed my life and ministry. As I prayed with the incarnation and Gospels of Jesus’ nativity, I rocked a six-month-old in my arms and wondered if Mary was ever covered with spit-up, exhausted from no sleep, or cleaning up another accident. It was there in the reality of my life and shared experiences with Mary that I understood what it meant for Jesus to be human. Mary, too, nursed a child, birthing a baby far from her home, watching and pondering the unfolding of God’s creation in the form of a tiny human. Jesus lived all that I witnessed daily with my children. Just as he grew in wisdom and grace, my own children slowly discovered who they are.
I sometimes joke that I am a “Jesuitte” because of the profound way Ignatian spirituality permeates and guides my life. This spirituality taught me to pray within the busyness of daily life and to bring everything before God. It continues to teach me that stolen moments of quiet with Jesus change my interactions with my children and spouse, our decisions in our marriage and family, and my work.
That is the gift of Ignatian spirituality. It teaches us to notice God encountering us in the middle of our restless lives, laboring to fill and make us whole.
Making the Spiritual Exercises the way I did altered the way I walk with people. My passion as a spiritual director, retreat facilitator, and author is to help people cultivate space for God in the middle of their lives, no matter the season. I believe with every bone in my being that the time for prayer is now. Prayer can be part of our day, whether we are raising children or empty nesting, working 18 hours a day or faced with hours of loneliness, young, old, single, married, religious, or ordained. God will meet us where we are and work in the reality of our lives, just like God met me in a new city with a new baby in my arms.
Becky Eldredge is an Ignatian-trained
spiritual director, retreat facilitator, and writer who helps others create
space to connect faith and everyday life. Her new book, Busy Lives
and Restless Souls, was released by Loyola Press in March 2017 and can
be ordered at www.beckyeldredge.com. She lives in Baton
Rouge, La., with her husband and three children.
Click here for the Spring 2017 Jesuits magazine index.