A book by Anthony de Mello, Wellsprings (Doubleday: New York. 1986) begins with a spiritual exercise called “Conclusions” (14-15).
The spiritual life requires courageous ventures into what is new, unknown, and uncomfortable. There, in the process of discovery, meaning is to be found–or rather, created. Faith is about trust founded on remembering how God has been with us in the past, so we have courage as we follow the Holy Spirit into the new life God is creating through us in the present.
Here is de Mello’s spiritual exercise for new beginnings.
I imagine that today I am to die.
I ask for some time alone and write down for my friends a sort of testament for which the points that follow could serve as chapter titles.
1. These things I have loved in life:
Things I tasted,
2. These experiences I have cherished:
3. These ideas have brought me liberation:
4. These beliefs I have outgrown:
5. These convictions I have lived by:
6. These are the things I have lived for:
7. These insights I have gained in the school of life:
Insights into God,
8. These risks I took,
these dangers I have courted:
9. These sufferings have seasoned me:
10. These lessons life has taught me:
11. These influences have shaped my life (persons, occupations, books, events):
12. These scripture texts have lit my path:
13. These things I regret about my life:
14. These things are my life’s achievements:
15. These persons are enshrined within my heart:
16. These are my unfulfilled desires:
I choose an ending for this document:
a poem–my own or someone else’s;
or a prayer;
or a picture from a magazine;
a scripture text;
or anything that I judge would be
an apt conclusion to my testament.