Festival 20 online
Our 20th anniversary
Dr Theodora Hawksley is a theologian by training, with a background in ecclesiology and social science. Her postdoctoral work at the University of Edinburgh focussed on peacebuilding and the arts, and her book Peacebuilding and Catholic Social Teaching comes out in October 2020 with Notre Dame University Press. She trained as a spiritual director in 2018 at St Beuno’s. She is based in London, where she leads social and environmental justice programming at the London Jesuit Centre.
Spiritual Exercises and Diversity – a personal reflection
This year’s conference – part of Festival 20 – was of course online. Where would we be nowadays without Zoom?
Theo Hawksley led us in carefully-timed sessions between Friday evening and Sunday afternoon; 4 sessions in all, with Theo’s input running to 15 mins each time followed by personal reflection and sharing in breakout rooms and ending with a brief plenary session on each occasion. The format worked very well.
In her introductory talk on Friday evening, Theo immediately placed the topic firmly into the midst of the Exercises by focusing on the Incarnation Exercise. She spoke of the sweep of God’s vision in its breadth and its depth as the Trinity survey the diverse nations and peoples of the Earth; and of the Trinity’s words, ‘Let us work the redemption of humankind’. She pointed out that that ‘us’ actually includes the exercitant and all of us who have desired to answer the Call of the King and join in Christ’s saving project.
She connected this with Pierre Favre who could always see in people ‘the point where salvation was coming from God’; this was referenced several times over the weekend as something of great relevance to us as accompaniers – this gift of sensing a key moment in the exercitant / directee which the director needs to draw attention to, stay with and give space for the transformational experience to develop.
Then the question of diversity and what it means, with its implication of a neutral norm (often white able-bodied males) from which other individuals and groups diverge. Surrounding this are many issues of justice or injustice, inequality, access to power and embodiment.
We looked at seeing – who we really see; who we don’t see; how we ourselves feel about being seen deeply. We pondered what might help us see as Jesus saw the woman with the haemorrhage – a healing, redemptive seeing. Society, of course, required this woman to be invisible. Seeing can be a social issue, an issue of justice.
It’s impossible to cover all that was said over the weekend. Suffice to say that it was prayerful, with beautiful prayers led by members of the EG. It was sociable and friendly in keeping with the tone set by Theo – calm, relaxed and sometimes very profound.