Write Your Testament

I am away on an eight-day silent retreat at the beautiful Eastern Point Jesuit Retreat Center in Gloucester, MA. This time grants me space to quiet myself and listen for that “still small voice” of the Sacred. Each day we practice the spiritual exercises taught by St. Ignatius. We pray, read scriptures, quietly reflect on their meaning for our lives and celebrate Mass each day. I am not Catholic, but I do find the structures of these days meaningful, helping create space for contemplation.

The Jesuits have a prayer book called Hearts on Fire with prayers and practices for spiritual deepening. Many of them are quite beautiful, but I thought this practice especially powerful. Father Anthony de Mello encourages us to write a “Testament” of our lives. 

He says: 

I imagine that today I am to die.

I ask for time to be alone and write down for my friends a sort of testament for which points that follow could serve as chapter titles.

These things I have loved in life:
     Things I tasted,
     Looked at,

These experiences I have cherished:

These ideas have brought be liberation:

These beliefs I have outgrown:

These convictions I have lived by:

These are the things I have lived for:

These are the insights I have gained in the school of life:
     Insight into God,
     the world,
     human nature,
     Jesus Christ,

These risks I took,
      these dangers I have courted:

These sufferings have seasoned me:

These lessons life has taught me:

These influences have shaped my life (persons, occupations, books, events):

These scripture texts have lit my path:

These things I regret about my life: 

These are my life’s achievements:

These persons are enshrined within my heart:

These are my unfulfilled desires:

When you take the time to consider these questions, they open you wide to the power of your life and the blessings of God within it. Father John Powell says, “To reveal myself openly and honestly takes the rawest kind of courage.” So it does. 

I hope you take a moment to reflect on these prompts and that they gift you insight, peace, and encouragement. 

We are in this together,

Rev. Cameron Trimble
Author of Piloting Church: Helping Your Congregation Take Flight

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