The basis of Ignatian spirituality is the ‘Principle and Foundation’ [#23] of the Spiritual Exercises. It is a statement of faith that grounds all our choices and perspectives. A summary of the text reads:
- I exist for God.
- I live for God in the world which is God’s gift.
- To live for God in the world is to respond to things, people, situations in a way that praises God, and expresses love of Him.
- For this, inner freedom is necessary.
- This inner freedom is only possible where there is desire.*
*Taken from material used by St Bueno’s Outreach Team, North Wales, UK.
If these are the tenets by which we are called to live, then Dewitt Jones, who for twenty-something years, worked as a photographer for the National Geographic, is doing just that. I watched a 22-minute video today called Celebrating What’s Right With the World. In it, Jones so graciously and generously shares with us, the insights he has gained from his work as a photographer. I recommend that you watch it for yourself to take in the wonder and awe.
Here’s the link to the video, in case you missed it.
While watching it, I took note of some of the things he said and kept hearing its resonance to the Principle and Foundation. Ignatius would be smiling, I kept thinking. Here are some of Dewitt Jones’ words that in my opinion, run parallel to the ideals set out in Annotation 23.
Vision controls our perception, and our perception become our reality.
On the insights gained from his work:
Celebrating what was right with the world, it was a vision with purpose and passion… And in the Geographic‘s view, man was an integral part of that beauty, not something separate – just as beautiful, just as magical as anything else on the planet. And when I celebrated the best in people, I could see that. I could see it in the faces of those who worked, or the body language of those at play, those in their youth or in their age… I would see it, I would see that light that shines not on us, but from within us. From within us when we trust enough to let it out. It was the same light I’d seen in nature that didn’t have to trust to expose itself, but just graced us every day.
And food-for-thought for us all:
How open to possibility does our vision allow us to be? Celebrating what’s right with the world: it not only keeps us open to possibilities, it gives us energy… Instead of starting out as we so often do by griping about what’s wrong with the situation, what’s right with it? Because by celebrating the best, that allows us to fall in love with it. That connects us with our passion, that emancipates the energy. By celebrating what’s right, we find the energy to fix what’s wrong. As Michelangelo once wrote: “I saw an angel in the stone and carved to set it free.”
What do you think about God falling in love with us?
What about celebrating our best, and then falling in love with each other?
How does this challenge us in our relationships with ourselves and with one another?
What other statements do you see resembling the Principle and Foundation?