This week I entered the third week of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.
It’s the part of the Exercises where the retreatant is supposed to walk with Christ through His suffering and death on a cross. Like walk with Him, feel with Him, get IN to the story.
Truthfully, I hesitated starting this week right now for a couple reasons. First, it felt very much like entering the Lenten season in August. Those forty days in the Spring right before Easter are, after all, made especially for thinking about Christ’s suffering and death. But it’s not Lent. It’s August and a new year is just beginning for me. It’s supposed to be a time of joy and celebration.
Secondly, there is so much sadness and confusion and suffering around us right now that I felt a little hesitant about diving in voluntarily to even more. I’m trying to focus on hope and light and let the anxiety I feel take a backseat.
These were just some of my hesitations as I reached this point in my retreat… That is until a six year old child’s voice piped up from the backseat of the car and offered me a challenge.
“Mom, my teacher said that Jesus let a whole bunch of people do really bad things to Him. He even let them kill Him. All to save us.”
“Well,” I replied, “Yea, He did. Isn’t it amazing to consider He did that for us.”
My son paused considering and then offered the question that really hit home for me:
“Mom… what if He said no?”
What if He said no?
I feel like as parents, educators, human beings, we are being asked to say yes to a lot of things that might be out of our comfort zone these days. And we are being asked to consider daily how our “yes” affects other people more directly than ever before. And how our “no” does as well.
It’s an interesting question, isn’t it?
What if we say no?
As Mary Oliver once wrote, this box of darkness that we hold – it may actually be an incredible gift.
If we only say yes.
Yes to holding it, examining it, feeling it, walking through it.
Yes to being a part of the gift Christ offered all of us on the cross.