“We don’t know all the reasons that propel us on a spiritual journey, but somehow our life compels us to go. Something in us knows that we are not just here to toil at our work. There is a mysterious pull to remember.”
-Jack Kornfield, from After the Ecstasy, the Laundry.
Last weekend was the “capstone” experience for the 18 month Ignatian Colleague Program. In preparation for this formal ending, we were invited to reflect on what the program meant both personally and professionally.
First of all, I’d like to publically thank President Kevin W. Wildes, SJ and Vice President for Mission & Ministry, Ted Dziak, SJ for their support and encouragement. I would also like to thank the Student Affairs team who graciously stepped in during my time away from the office.
Our study on discernment was particularly meaningful; Fr. Nicholas’ address was exceptional. While the four pre-requisites for good decision making made good sense, they also promoted sufficient challenges:
1. A community of shared values
The above points are fraught with various political outcomes. In an ideal community, given that the four points are uniformly embraced by all members, good decision making would certainly be easier to enact.
The beauty of our institution is that many are drawn for mission-centric reasons, and for the noble purpose of teaching and service. I was especially moved by Nicholas’ quote: “The people in community need not all think alike, because when everyone easily agrees, probably not everyone is thinking. BUT the members of the community need to have the same fundamental values, because if they don’t have the same values, they cannot arrive at the same objectives.”
Good decision making must also incorporate ‘freedom.’ The process of arriving at a good decision needs to provide opportunities for inclusion and expression (the good, the bad and the ugly) without penalty. Once a vetted decision is reached, if it isn’t the one you favored, you support the collective decision. This is the ideal use of positional power.
Generosity of skill, talent, and resources must be available for good decisions to be manifested. This is especially difficult in financially troubling times. We must fight our natural desire to ‘have enough.’ This is very similar to selflessness, giving what is needed with no regard for what is being given up for “the greater good.”
Balancing both an educated mind and intuitive soulfulness is a God given gift, and I am grateful.