de Mello 2: Albums
“This return to past scenes where you felt love and joy is one of the finest exercises I know for building up your psychological health. Many of us go through what one psychologist calls peak experiences. The pity is that when the experience actually takes place very few people have the capacity to surrender themselves to it. So they take in nothing of the experience, or very little. What they need to do is return to the experiences in fantasy and gradually take the experience in to the full…(These stories) will be a supply of nourishment. Make sure, however, that you do not return to these scenes and observe them from the outside. They have to be relived, not observed… (This exercise) increases the capacity for accepting love and welcoming joy into life. And so, increases the capacity for experiencing God.”
Anthony de Mello, Sadhana: A Way to God, pp. 72-73.
I must admit that I decided to read Anthony de Mello’s book, Sadhana: A Way to God, while I was studying about spiritual direction because it is not long, looked like easy reading, and I knew I had a great deal going on in my life in the next coming weeks of study! Well, it is only 140 pages, but it is the kind of material where one should practice one exercise one day at a time for 140 days or even better one exercise, one week at a time. There was only one exercise that I found too hard to do, and that was Exercise 29 where we image ourselves as a corpse decomposing! I must admit, I have otherwise found every one of them so helpful with so many ways to connect to God.
Each exercise was one that I wanted to practice. I think I identified most with the fantasy exercises, especially Exercise 18, the joyful mysteries of your life. Here we immerse ourselves in joyful times in our lives, remembering details, staying in the moment, experiencing the joy, love. De Mello then recommends that we build an album of these experiences to return to to help us through difficult times, to keep reminding ourselves of the joy in our life, and the presence of God in those past moments during dry times when God may not feel present.