An entry by George Ponodath, Jesuit from India, where he shares his experience when arriving to Manresa for the first time as a participant of the Ignatian Immersion Course 2013 (English).
Thank you, George!
"When I went to Manresa
For a person from a very congested concrete jungle that is Kolkta, Manresa was heaven on earth! Clear blue skies, clean air, blue hills and vast open spaces were bewitchingly inviting and invigorating. Add to that the historical significance Manresa for a Jesuit and the cocktail is heady – both physically and spiritually. After a journey that lasted about 14 hours and several time zone changes, I needed to sleep and I slept in the quietude of Manresa – probably one of the soundest slumbers of my life.
I woke up late the next morning, had a refreshing shower followed by a light breakfast and went out for a walk. Every step was something special because I constantly felt that a great person, a saint had walked on this place and I did not feel quite comfortable treading where saints had trodden. I am not worthy, I told myself and yet some spirit was nudging me to go on. I reached the Roman bridge over river Cardoner. I paused, touched the earth beneath, put those fingers to my forehead as a mark of reverence and stepped on the bridge as if I were approaching the tabernacle. Yes, St. Ignatius would have crossed this bridge several times during his stay in Manresa. I walked as gently and reverently as I could. The spirit of Ignatius was there – the water flowing below, the rocks, the birds, the swaying trees and the gentle breeze – all seem to speak of him, that saintly man in sack cloth! I crossed the road and headed towards the tiny chapel on the slopes of the hillock. As the chapel was closed I touched its old wooden doors gently, the saint would have definitely touched it. He would have visited this chapel of Our Lady of the way several times. He would have spent several devout hours in and around it; he would have poured out his heart at her feet. I sat outside in the cool shadow of the tree and let my spirit mingle with the atmosphere around. Tranquility, peace and purity reigned supreme.
After sometime, soaked in a deep sound of silence, I walked up the hillock. The path was rough, unpaved and lonely. Perhaps all paths in Manresa were like this at the time of Ignatius. He must have walked this path – limping and yet buoyant with the spirit of God. The swaying of the tiny grass, the purple lilies and those pink wild flowers were mesmerizing along the path. An occasional chirping of a tiny bird and the whistling of the willow along the path interrupted the otherwise silent atmosphere. I sat on a rock and looked east. There in the distance is the red carpet of wild poppy flowers leading as it were to Montserrat – beautiful, majestic, mysterious and yet inviting. I looked west. There is today’s Manresa, sleepy and yet alive; there is La Seu, the imposing basilica, standing as a mute witness to the making of a saint. There is the Ignatius Spirituality Centre, hiding in its bosom, the Mecca of the Jesuits, the Cave that saw the spiritual transformation of a soldier, Inigo. Overwhelmed by history and divine mystery of the place I sat there in that serenity for a long time, letting the spiritual vibration deep into all the cells of my being".