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New life, new normal

Gavin Thomas Murphy runs a website called GratitudeInAllThings.com where he looks to Ignatian Spirituality for strength and inspiration.

“I am with you always, yes, to the end of time” – Matthew 28:20.

There was a turning point during the lockdown when I realised that my old way of living was not sustainable. I fell into a depression and felt a lack of joy. I got in touch with a contemplative nun who prompted me to turn to praise through the Divine Office, a form of daily prayer with the church worldwide. I did it for a few days in a row and felt the return of an inner sunshine. Later, I adapted it by choosing more personal readings and songs. I now find both silent and vocal prayer to be a recipe for wellness.

However, I still experienced unbalanced moods and realised the importance of staying in consolation. I thought of Ignatius Loyola’s image of a drop of water falling onto a sponge which has a gentle and sweet effect on the soul. He also encourages us to be vigilant of any false sweetness. I thought of the Zen sound of ‘Mu’, which when chanted is a reminder of true consolation. Sometimes I got pulled toward elation and overactivity, but as I opened up to the ‘mellow flame of love’ I was better able to endure the pandemic and find lasting peace and happiness.

I became acutely aware of the influence of our inner voices. For example, the inner critic focused on negativity and breaking down community; the inner observer encouraged a life of goodness, beauty and love; and the inbetweener delayed decisions and was tired and dreary. Importantly, I learned to examine my own thoughts before examining the thoughts of others. The inner observer was also helpful in embracing my family’s flaws because it gently encouraged us to grow and acknowledged our deep interdependence. I am grateful that this new life, this new normal helps bring an end to needless suffering.

Oil painting by Siobhan Murphy