It was one of those mornings I woke up in a foul mood. My ego had flared, full-nova, and the voice inside my head was darkly replaying a litany of affronts. A person criticized me for something I said. Though well-intentioned and (probably) justified, it stung. I had a discussion on politics with another, and that didn’t go well (does it ever?!?) There was a little drama at work, and that was weighing me down.
On my morning walk around the property, the inner voice continued the rant “How dare they….” My mind would imagine various sarcastic and passive-aggressive responses. The weather matched my mood. It had rained the night before so the path was muddy. A foggy mist marred my vision.
My usual route passes a statue of Mary. On that morning the rain had spared parts of her body. The effect was that her face and robes were grey, but the Immaculate Heart on her chest was white. I took a picture and walked on. Missing an obvious sign, I went to work as grumpy as ever.
But later that day, it dawned on me that Mary in her own way was telling me, “Silence that accusing voice in your head. Listen to the voice that comes from God.” By illuminating her Immaculate Heart, I realized she was illuminating the voice I needed to hear.
Saint Ignatius wrote “Rules for the Discernment of Spirits”. He talks about these two voices, or spirits, at work in our spiritual life. “Rule Two” was certainly active that morning:
“It is the way of the evil spirit to bite, sadden, put obstacles, and disquiet with false reasons… and it is proper to the good [spirit] to give courage, strength, and consolations.” (The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola)
I was definitely bitten by the evil spirit that morning, saddened and disquieted with many dark and irrational thoughts. To pull me out of my funk, the ‘good spirit’ sent me a sign via the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Even though I almost missed it, later reflection redirected my thoughts. The new voice said, “Lighten up. It’s going to be OK. I’ve got this.”
I would have missed all of this had I not done a prayerful mid-day review. Try to carve out a little time in your day to ask, “What signs have I missed?”