By Tom Mountenay of Independence, MO, USA
May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace! —Psalm 29:11 NRSV
My two favorite teachers, Mr. Jackson and Dr. David Freeman, revealed truths about me that I treasure. Mr. Jackson, my junior high industrial arts teacher, who had the nickname “Jackhammer,” should have sent me to the principal’s office many times. Instead, one day he asked that I stay after class. He told me, “You are a better person than the way you behave.”
Dr. Freeman, professor of social work, once asked me a question in front of the class. I could not think of an answer and said, “I don’t know; I guess I’m slow.” He said, “Tom, you are not slow—you ponder.” These two teachers revealed gifts of grace to me. I am still learning and pondering how to be a better person.
For the last two years, I have been intrigued by Ignatian spirituality; it resonates with me. For some time I felt stagnant; ideas and insights that had inspired me in the past were no longer effective in my desire to be a better person. Then, as a new gift of grace, I read the question, “What more does God want of me?”
The question we seek an answer for is “What more does God want of me?” More is…the aspiration to always grow in service for the greater glory of God. [This can be] described as the Jesuit “itch”—a restlessness in service, an ambition to maintain high standards of performance, a desire to conquer new frontiers. But it simply means more. We are loved by a God who loves without limit. We love him in return. What more can we do to love him? —David L. Fleming, What Is Ignatian Spirituality? Chicago: Loyola Press, 2008, 40
Ignatius helps us understand it is the love of God that activates and affects our hearts, not just our minds when we are attentive to God who loves and moves beyond anything we can ponder. Ignatius understood that we can easily “unbind” or separate what we think or believe and our actions from the love of God. Our attentiveness to God will increase our understandings and our intellect, yet Ignatius addressed the response of the heart.
I hope I keep asking, “What more can we do to love God?” I want to be a better person and a better evangelist. I know my heart has been changed by God’s love and by those who love me. Every day I want I want to love God more and be loving kindness. I am still learning.
Prayer for Peace
Restless God, stir our souls. Help us listen and learn how we can show our love for you. Help us learn how we can express Christ’s peace.
Spiritual Practice: Teacher–learner
The first disciples of Jesus followed to hear his teaching, to learn a new way of living, and to practice what they learned in daily life. Prayerfully consider your role as a teacher–learner, disciple–apprentice—a people cultivator in Community of Christ. In your journal, write the names of several people you discern as teachers or mentors and several you feel called to nurture and encourage in specific ways. Ask for God’s blessing on you and your congregation as a community of learners.
Today, God, I will thank a former teacher.