There has been a question circulating on social media in the last few days – how are you going to celebrate the feast of St Ignatius? I do it in two ways – It is the day I use to mark the celebration of my vocation. And in good Ignatian fashion I write a few short notes to people who have been particularly significant in the last year.
So what is my vocation?
For me – it is summarised in this picture: the blending of education, philosophy and synthesis. The symbolism is a truly chemical one. The three rings are bonded together, they exist in the same plane and the electrons which form the π-bonds (the double bonds) form a single conjugated system. It is impossible to relate specific electrons to specific π-bonds or even to a single ring. In terms of my research project this means that education, philosophy and synthesis are all interconnected. Synthesis has a dual meaning. It means both the synthesis of new molecules and the synthesis of ideas and knowledge areas.
I don’t understand quite why I seem to have been called to bring together my background in spirituality, my knowledge of chemistry, my enjoyment of philosophy and my passion for education. Quite what will emerge is not clear. I know only that I do not seem to be able to abandon any of them. (And I have several times to let go of one or other aspect). I am truly grateful to have found a place where the tension between the different aspects is manageable.
It took me many years to discover that the real life for me comes from living in the strange mixture. I think that the years of full immersion in spirituality have been vital in helping hold this all together. Quite where this path will lead I don’t know. I try to hold the essence and sit lightly to the detail.
In writing this today I want to encourage all of those who are still grappling with where they are supposed to be and what they are supposed to be doing. The search is worth it, but it will probably take longer than you think it ought to!