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Tilling the soil

What’s not to love about spring? In cold climates, the world is coming green again with new life. There is no more special shade of green than that of shoots poking through newly thawed ground. Magnolias burst with spectacular flowers. Baby birds chirp and await a drop of food from their mothers. No wonder it is time to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and the renewed life He offers each of us.

Spring is a season of celebrations first communions, confirmations, award ceremonies and end-of-year banquets. We anticipate graduations and maybe a wedding. These are times for family and friends and the entire community to remember, relive and dream for the future.

Perhaps at this time of the year more than any other, gratitude is proclaimed loudly and often. Thanks are expressed to our teachers, parents, guides, mentors, catechists, pastors and all those who have nudged us on in faith and growth to the next stage in life. Gratitude at this time of the year is a natural response to lives filled with blessings. Even when passing through struggles and challenges, developing the ability to be grateful for the simplest of blessings in our lives, from the sun shining to the smell of a gentle spring rain, can awaken our recognition of God’s continued presence and love in our lives. That’s what living in the resurrection is all about.

The response of gratitude is not just a warm fuzzy feeling. Rather, it propels a compelling need to give back to others in service of God. That response in gratitude is also what St. Ignatius intended to be the culmination of the Spiritual Exercises. He called it “contemplation to attain love,” and it means that when we are grateful for the blessings from God, we realize that the most appropriate response is learning to live like God loves us, unconditionally and expansively.

In the words of St. Ignatius: “I ask God to give me an intimate knowledge of the many gifts I have received, that filled with gratitude for all, I may in all things love and serve the Divine Majesty.”

Dr. Susan Mountin, Jour ’71, Grad ’94, director of Manresa for Faculty, helps us till the soil of faith in a quarterly column on Ignatian values.

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