This is the sixth Pray as you go reflection, commemorating the two hundredth anniversary of the Restoration of the Society of Jesus. A reflection on the life of Anthony de Mello.
Karen Money sings Sanctuary: ‘Take me to a quiet place, where I can be with you.’
Anthony de Mello was born in 1931 in Bombay, and had a major influence on Christian spirituality across the globe. He developed an engaging story-telling technique called ‘Sadhana’ that has enhanced the use of imagination and contemplation in popular ways of praying. In his writings and conferences he used examples and stories from the major faith traditions, especially drawing on the insights and truths found in both Hinduism and Buddhism. He saw the development of awareness as one of the most important elements of spiritual progress, and renewed the meditation of ‘Application of the Senses’ from the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius’ for a whole new generation of religious seekers. Anthony de Mello died in 1987.
The explorer returned to his people, who were anxious to know about the Amazon. But how could he ever put into words the feelings that flooded his heart when he saw exotic flowers and heard the night-sounds of the forests; when he sensed the danger of wild beasts or paddled his canoe over treacherous rapids?
He said, ‘Go and find out for yourselves.’ To guide them he drew a map of the river.
They pounced upon the map. They framed it in their Town Hall. They made copies of it for themselves. And all who had a copy considered themselves experts on the river, for did they not know its every turn and bend, how broad it was, how deep, where the rapids were and where the falls?
Much of Tony de Mello’s writing took the form of stories. He used them, as Jesus used his parables, to prompt people to think for themselves. What’s your own first response to this story?
In your own life, what corresponds to the map the explorer draws? What, on the other hand, corresponds to his experience of the Amazon?
How do you encounter God in your prayer? Do you find God difficult to encounter. Spend a few moments reflecting on this.
As you listen to the reading again, ask yourself how you would respond to those people who wanted to know about the Amazon.
No more words! Take a moment simply to feel the God who is greater even than the mighty Amazon river flood your own heart.