WelCom November 2020
Review by Michael Fitzsimons
In the midst of Covid-19 darkness, we have the light of a new book of spiritual reflections from the indefatigable Joy Cowley. Coming Home, an Ignatian Journey, charts Joy’s experience of doing a 30-Day retreat with the Ignatian Exercises.
Joy is well-versed in Ignatian spirituality, having done two 30-day retreats with the Exercises and completed a two-year course as an Ignatian spiritual director.
As she notes in the introduction, this book is written from a feminine viewpoint. ‘Almost everything written about Ignatius of Loyola and his spiritual exercises has come from masculine understanding.’ Coming Home reflects a feminine spirituality engaging with the Exercises but as Joy notes ‘the book has not been written solely for women. I hope men will read it too.’
Coming Home is structured according to the movement of the Exercises, which fall under six headings: unconditional love, the growing space, walking the way with Jesus, dying to live, the way of the cross and living in gratitude.
The text is a series of reflections on particular Gospel passages and parables, as well as practical ideas about ways of praying and the spiritual journey itself. It includes helpful insights into prayer practices such as The Examen, a daily time of prayerful reflection on the thoughts, words and deeds of the past day, and Lectio Divina, a form of meditation based on a careful, imaginative reading of a short piece of scripture.
Joy Cowley is one of New Zealand’s greatest spiritual writers. All her spiritual writing is about what it means to live a life close to God and this book is no exception. She has the gift of being able to put that experience into words, as few other writers can.
Coming Home is a guide to the spiritual life through the lens of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. It brings together the rich and enduring Ignatian tradition and the writer’s own deep feminine spirituality, nourished over a lifetime. The reflections and insights come out of prayer and a fresh reading of Gospel stories and texts. As always, Joy writes with huge encouragement, clarity and a down-to-earth wisdom which makes the book a pleasure to read.
The great theologian Karl Rahner once wrote: ‘In the days ahead, you will either be a mystic, one who has experienced God for real or nothing at all.’ Coming Home is perfect reading for your mystic journey.
Coming Home, An Ignatian Journey is published by The Copy Press, 2020.