Center for Christian Spirituality

Drop Shadow


I am always learning how to pray more intentionally, and am desiring deeper ways to feel God’s presence in my life. Given this, Fr. Rolheiser’s talk, “Prayer Our Deepest Longing” resonated and moved me in various ways. In hearing his words, many images had a profound impact on me. The image of Paul, whose prayer took shape in moans coming from the depths of his soul because words could not capture the entirety his emotions and experience. The example of Mary’s courage and strength, standing beneath the cross knowing in all her wisdom that darkness had chosen its hour. Rather than spreading more hate in the world, she chose to absorb and bravely position herself in its face.

I did not start intentionally paying attention to my prayer life until I was an undergraduate student at the University of San Diego. I have found that without finding a place for prayer in my life, I feel less connected to God, myself, and the world. My prayer life is rooted in Ignatian Spirituality, in striving to find God in all things. I have realized that prayer is a choice; a choice to see the world in a new light. To find God in seemingly simple day to day experiences; in quiet moments and in those of chaos; in times of great emotion-- joy and grief; in the gentle stirrings in my soul.

Over time, the heart of my prayer took shape and became something along the lines of this: "Dear God, please help me to see, know, and love the world as you do. I know that I am flawed and will fail in many ways, but I will strive to love the world as you do. Please, give me the courage to encounter this world fully." Without knowing the gravity of what this prayer meant, I find that God is answering it every day with gentleness, humor, comfort, and truth. When Fr. Rolheiser spoke of the beloved disciple at the last supper, the image moved me to tears. The idea of being so intimate with Jesus, of “hearing the sound of his heartbeat and becoming attune with it” and allowing that sound to inform the way in which my eyes look out to see the world offered a new way in which to imagine my prayer.

My prayer life is enriched by my relationships with spiritual companions, intentional friendships, and consistent practice. One special relationship is that with a Jesuit priest who walked with me through my first experience of spiritual direction. He helped me learn how to use my imagination in prayer; how to welcome God into my questions, my pain, joy, and grief; how to pay attention to the stirrings of my heart; and how to discern. This past August, I was reflecting with him about the ways in which I was being moved by my current work. After I shared what was on my heart, he looked at me smiling, slightly shaking his head, and chuckled saying, “You’re in trouble kiddo. The way in which you are living your life will cause you deep pain—but also great joy. You’re asking to enter into the heart of the world’s suffering, and that is good news.”

In order to live my prayer, I am challenged to imagine how Jesus might encounter every situation or human relationship. In all my praying, searching, living, and questioning, I have found this simple and complex truth: the answer is always love.

Spenser Leverett
San Diego State University
MSW Student, Title IV-E

"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other." -Mother Teresa

If a man is to live, he must be all alive, body, soul, mind, heart, spirit. Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude