A discussion recently on the question at the beginning of a prayer period “How does He look at me?” has been occupying my thoughts. The question is posed in this way to provoke me to:
…consider that God our Lord beholds me, etcThird addition, The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius; trans Louis J. Puhl S.J.,
and for me, it is an important addition, because it has an impact on my prayer and my response to God. Please allow me to use, by way of analogy, a creature from the film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them to explain my perception.
Consider infinite God, outwith space and time, represented by the occamy in it’s giant state at the beginning of the scene. He sees me in my past, present and future…who I was, who I am and who I will become. The open teapot represents me when I still myself before Him in prayer, and try to connect with how He is looking at me in the present moment, and the relative smallness of it represents my capacity for God. In order for God to meet me in the present, in my here and now, He moves from His capacious infinity, to my limited capacity: like the occamy at the end of the scene, God makes Himself small in order to meet me where I am. It’s almost as if He focuses and thinks:
Ah, this is who you are, at this moment, in this space and time.
My soul senses this movement in God, and feels the pain of it – I am not who He sees when He looks at me. It is not a desolating, self loathing “I am a worm” realisation; it is the honest and humble knowledge of myself as a loved sinner before my almighty, all loving God, who treasures me and regards me as precious, and His. It provokes in me the desire to become the person He sees when He looks at me. It is a beautiful paradox. I desire to become the person He sees and desires me to become because I sense in His movement that I am not yet the person He sees and desires me to become. For me, considering how He beholds me in the here and now, near the beginning of my prayer, is a significant practice in helping me to feel the reality of wanting to become the person He sees when He looks at me. I’m not that person, but I really want to be.