I didn’t know much about Ignatius of Loyola until a little over a year ago.
Since ‘meeting’ Ignatius through reading and participating in an educational pilgrimage to Spain, the life, story and spiritual journey of this man have captured my thoughts many times.
Ignatius was a fascinating and complicated individual. Born into a prominent family in the Basque region of Spain, his early life was marred by loss and loneliness. He longed for accomplishment and adventure and spent much of his time daydreaming.
As a young adult, he was a heavy drinker, womanizer and soldier who imagined chivalry and conquest. In 1521, Ignatius was severely wounded when a cannonball shattered his leg during a battle with the French in Pamplona. The enemy was so impressed by the young soldier’s bravery they transported Ignatius to the family castle where he convalesced, undergoing appalling surgery without anesthesia.
During his convalescence, the only two books in the house were Life of Christ and Lives of the Saints. Ignatius read about Jesus. He studied saints, who were known as Knights of God. The young, wounded soldier’s daydreams began to include not only familiar fantasies but also dreams of religious chivalry in the name of Jesus, the gentle captain of men’s souls. Ignatius recognized a distinct difference in his spirit during the two types of daydreaming. Old fantasies led to restless discontentment while his new fantasies created peaceful quietness.
Ignatius’ imagination played a key role in his conversion. He believed imagination can be a tool to draw us deeper into a knowledge of and love for God.
I’ve always been a daydreamer with a fertile imagination. I’m drawn to the way in which Ignatius honors human imagination, encouraging believers to pray with their imaginations—praydream.
I’m convinced God is imaginative. I don’t have a particularly scientific mind and viewing God as Creator has never caused tension for me. I can almost hear God chuckle as he created the ginormous elephant as well as the itty-bitty ant, the sweet-smelling rose and homely, prickly cactus!
Perhaps the vastness of creation is never greater than when looking at the stars. My husband, Ron, has been using his love of photography to capture God’s creativity in nighttime astronomy. In this photo, Ron caught a glimpse of the Milky Way from the Rose Lake, Idaho, area.
In my next posts, I’ll explore how our imagination can be used for good as well as not-so-good purposes.
Blessings as you imagine…