"[T]o still waters he leads me . . ." (Psalm 23:2)
Last year, while on the Blessed is She writer’s retreat, I learned about Ignatian prayer for the first time as our own Beth Davis, Director of Ministry Advancement for Blessed is She, led us through this spiritual exercise.
I can count on one hand the moments that have profoundly touched the depths of my heart, shaping my spiritual life—and this was one of them. The sun had just set behind the hill of trees, the last remnants of the day hung in the air, and all my sisters gathered around the hearth. I closed my eyes and allowed the Holy Spirit to guide me in prayer.
In my mind, I was standing in the middle of a forest. The trees were dense and the ground was soft beneath my bare feet. The pine needles padded the space around me while the sound of a slow stream filled my ears. As I turned, I saw a bank where the calm waters were flowing across several smooth stones. Large and small, they pebbled the stream creating a musical hum as the restful waters ebbed and flowed downstream.
Drawn to the water, the stream lapped at my toes and as if of their own volition, my legs pulled me forward. First ankle, then knee, then waist deep, the cool water with its friendly invitation drew me to lay back and float atop the water. Cradling my head, the movement of the water filled my ears, and I closed my eyes. With only my face and above water level, I let these restful waters wash over me.
Then I began to cry. I couldn't tell where my tears ended and the stream began. The salty tears from my soul poured out, joining this forest stream. And suddenly, where I was cradled by the water a moment before, I was now cradled by two strong but gentle arms. My eyes were clouded with the weight of my tears. Vision blurred, I could not see.
And with the softest cloth smelling of the sweetest air, my eyes were being wiped dry, and I could see again. And I stared up at the face of Jesus.
“The Lord God will wipe away the tears from every face.” (Isaiah 25:8)
From every face. Including mine.
Have you read about Ignatian spiritual exercises? Find out more here.
Samantha Aguinaldo-Wetterholm is a wife to Paul, mom to two little ones, and practices dentistry at a public health community center for low income families in the Bay Area, California. She (unashamedly) thinks ice cream is its own food group, loves anything Harry Potter, does not leave the house without wearing sparkly earrings, and is an enthusiastic proponent of the Oxford comma. Find out more about her here.