Tuesday, March 30, 2010

As Ignatius Said

As not every household, probably not every rectory, has in its library a copy of Ignatius of Loyola's little classic, the Spiritual Exercises, I will render his note 2 in it fullness.
"The one who explains to another the method and order of meditating or contemplating should narrate accurately the facts of the contemplation or meditation. Let him adhere to the points, and add only a short or summary explanation. The reason for this is that when one in meditating takes the solid foundation of facts, and goes over it and reflects on it for himself, he may find something that makes them a little clearer or better understood. This may arise either from his own reasoning, or from the grace of God enlightening his mind. Now this produces greater spiritual relish and fruit than if one in giving the Exercises had explained and developed the meaning at great length. For it is not much knowledge that fills and satisfies the soul, but the intimate understanding and relish of the truth."
All good teachers know from experience - first acquired in their own learning processes - that this is the only way a student can acquire a genuine, realistic, knowledge of any subject. The same goes for athletic coaches, or personal fitness trainers, even if they are not theologians, although sound theology as an infallible way of improving the climate of the teaching, coaching, or training situation. He or she who has learned to listen to God in the learning process, intellectual, imaginative, or physiological, is much better able to listen to a student, a patient, a client. Once a learner has gone through all the essential steps, one at a time, and over and over again in a pleased and contented frame of mind, he can put an amazing amount of stuff together - Beethoven with a sonata, Tom Brady reading the dispositions of the twenty-one other football players on the field with him as he starts calling his signals. But it doesn't begin that way, and it's the genius of the real teacher or coach who knows how to break the problems down into individual steps before it's the genius of the performer.
And the truly happy and efficient performer is the soul that has been taught or learned to relish all those little individual steps. Beethoven and all possible thirds, major and minor; Tom Brady learning to throw consistently accurate short passes before he studied the long bomb. And what is even more necessary, the pleasure and confidence-building experience of ruminating accurately over each and every move away from the game, the keyboard, in the middle of the night, out on  a walk, or, like Tim McDaniel, up amongst the trees on the Whitewater ski hill. I asked him recently if he reflected on his interval studies, and he said yes, when he was ski-ing.
So now I'm doing my calf stretches properly, after all these inefficient years, loving every second of the sensation the right stretch gives, and rethinking all my recent fears that my thoughts of running might be no longer valid.
And I also wonder if it's time to take the press to the cleaners. This puts a lot of zip into the time with the erg, but also reduces the time I can spend with it. I've dropped to 200 calories per day, to concentrate on the stretches, give more time to a little over head barbell work, and think about the paparazzi. You have to be really, really, stupid to attack this Pope, and it's time the long, long, history or the media mediocrity on the question of sex abuse by clergy is exposed. Beat the rush, guys. Get your sorry asses into the confessional before the crowd swells. Only three more coughing-up days before Lent is over.
The line-up should be led, of course, by a certain ex-media baron. Oh, my, what a story Citizen Con could have got to cover if he'd only answered a certain letter.

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