Many food items can be frozen so that they will be available at any time of year. But freezing does not preserve some food as well as it does others. Fresh peaches and fresh peach pies are far better tasting than peach-based products that are made to last for a long time. Though we might prefer to have peaches or whatever else we might desire whenever we want, some of the best things in life cannot be preserved or kept for a later time: they must be enjoyed when they are available. We can either be disappointed at what we do not have, or be pleased with so much that is ours in the present.
Experiences of God are much more like peach pie than are frozen or canned peach products. We can enjoy the various movements of grace as they are offered to us, or we can try to preserve those we receive for a later time and thereby miss the taste that is available in the gifts that God gives us right now. Thoughts and feelings that come to us and satisfy our hearts and minds may have lasting effects, and we might literally make note of them in writing, but experiences of grace and moments of inspiration cannot be captured and kept.
Peaches have a specific growing season, so we have to wait for the more or less predictable time when they will be available, as we do with many other time-related foods and events. Christmas and birthdays occur on calendar dates that children sometimes wish could be fast-forwarded, but we do not control the movement of time. God, who gave us the environment of time in which we live, is not limited by seasons or calendars in gifting us with graces and inspirations. We do not control their occurrence, but they are in some ways more dependable than all of the seasonal happenings that we so highly value. The season for peaches will come and go, but God can and does always respond to us immediately and directly within our innermost selves whenever we express our needs and desires with openness and honesty, and also at times when we do not even think to turn our hearts and minds in God’s direction.
Not everyone enjoys a taste of peach pie, but we all benefit from thoughts that come onto our minds and which encourage, support and enable us to act more fully from our hearts than we would otherwise be capable of doing. We do not call up inspirations from within us; we do not create those beneficial flashes of insight that so greatly bless us, but we can rely on having such experiences throughout our lives. Even more, we can ask for them with trust that the supply is unlimited. A pie can only serve a certain number of people, but God does not apportion blessings and graces as if there were only so many available for each one of us.
Today and every day, God’s “peach pie” is available to all of us.
Father Randy Roche, SJ, Director of the Center for Ignatian Spirituality, has an M.A. in Theology from Santa Clara University, and an M.S. in Counseling from San Diego State. He has served as LMU Director of Campus Ministry, Rector of the Jesuit Community at Jesuit High School in Sacramento, Director of Studies and Spiritual Director at the Jesuit Novitiate, and as Pastor, Superior, and Director of Diocesan Campus Ministry at the Newman Center in Honolulu.
Throughout his years of ministry, he has continuously deepened his own experience of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises, while also acting as a guide in the Exercises for lay people and religious. Not surprisingly, his specialty is Ignatian spirituality as a tool for discernment in decision-making.