I am currently involved in an Ignatian spirituality retreat that meets a couple of times a month. It revolves around movies as a way to learn the Ignatian teachings of discovering a deeper, more meaningful way to experience God through discernment and conscious awareness. The retreat is run by a woman who is both a certified spiritual director as well as trained in the Ignatian teachings.
My own experience thus far has been remarkable and my personal journey greatly enriched by the exercises of St. Ignatius.
While I have always known and understood the inter-connectedness of our lives, I am finding the reality of it as revealed through the retreat exercises to be almost overwhelming at times. I have come to fully appreciate that all too often we talk the talk about helping one another and supporting one another and truly being joyful for one another; but do not seem to be walking the talk.
For the most part, above and beyond the daily, secular experience of living, we are also caught up living in the competitive cyber-world where the Internet provides a forum for people to share too much information about their lives and very often their fabricated personas.
Having been part of this Ignatian retreat, my own heart is filled with a deeper commitment to see myself as part of a whole—not what I can accomplish for myself or how I compare to others; but how I am called to help and serve others with whom I currently share life on this planet. For what I know—and what I pray everyone else knows—is that there is a reason we are sharing this very moment in time and it is not for our own glory or our own ends. Too many people have lost track of why they are here: to know, love and serve God in this life so that they can enjoy eternity with Him in the next.
Anyhow, since there really are no coincidences, I found it wonderful to have come upon this true story of Rabbi Tzvi Finkel as it illustrates a lesson we all probably need to be reminded of in some degree or another. I love how it captures what we all ought to understand and embrace about the beauty of a generous spirit towards one another because we are all connected:
Hundreds of years ago there was a rabbi who was sitting alone enjoying a banquet. When passerbys came upon this odd sight, they inquired, "Rabbi, What is the celebration? Why are you alone at this banquet? Where are the guests?"
The rabbi responded, "This celebration is for someone who has received a prestigious award for something he has accomplished. I am alone because the other guests are hundreds of miles away, celebrating with the recipient."
"Who," asked the passerbys "is receiving this great award that warrants such a lavish banquet?"
"Sadly, I do not know the gentleman, nor his guests; but still I share in his great accomplishment and in his joy!" was the rabbi's generous and warm-hearted response.