What’s your favourite way to start your Sunday?
I live in North Van, so I journey downtown to Christ Church Cathedral every Sunday morning. It is a commute my husband (Terrence), son (Myles-Cohen), and I look forward to. It offers me a time of quieting my mind and centring before worshipping with fellow pilgrims of diverse origins, cultures, and stories. The weekly morning commute becomes our pilgrimage to a community of sacred belonging. Moments of silence, praying for receptiveness to whatever God intends to unveil, often happen during this morning commute.
How do you centre and ground yourself when life is full?
My spiritual life is often reflected in my calendar. I find a full calendar with back-to-back appointments, leaving little margin for rest or contemplation, can dull my attentiveness to the movement of the Spirit. So, as a practice, I schedule my calendar with breathing space, as my quiet, defiant resistance to the social pressure of chronic productivity and bottom-line culture.
I start my days early in the morning. A cup of warm, freshly made ginger lemonade with raw honey signals my contemplative quiet time (30-45 minutes). Over the last two-plus decades, I have embraced ancient spiritual practices, e.g. Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius (Examen and Imaginative Prayer), Lectio Divina, and Visio Divina. These practices enable me to orient my listening and seeing towards the Holy One. While I have no expectation for a burning bush moment every morning, I sense consolation and feel divinely held and companioned by Christ, and that is Holy ground for me. This morning routine aligns my posture before work (as a trained spiritual director).
During the day, I intentionally schedule and protect a pause between work appointments, (~30 - 45+ min) which helps to sustain and replenish my interior garden. It becomes the space where I can gently hold my spiritual directee in prayer before and after a session, and a time to tend to my body's needs. This pause is my practice of gathering, tending, and releasing with patient trust.
Going for nature walks, cycling, creating my favourite tea (e.g. Indian Chai, Rooibos with home-dried orange peels), reading, St. Ignatious Exercise of Examen, or painting are some of my go-to for slowing down, savouring the pleasure in contemplative solitude and creativity. I’ve been told I carry an artist’s soul: I seek the good and complex beauty in life and people; I believe there is always something good in what or who I’m looking at, even if it takes some work. I also enjoy art and music. My Dad loves opera and classical music, which has influenced me since childhood.
What is Visio Divina?
While Lectio Divina is the sacred reading of scripture via the movement of the Spirit, Visio Divina is the practice of sacred seeing: gazing at something - an icon, a painting, with sustained attention. 15-20 minutes can be quality time for this spiritual practice, during which one resists analyzing and allows for spacious, “un-agenda-ed” attention. It can be rich and deepening as we let God take up space and welcome the Spirit to direct our noticing unhindered. God can speak in whatever way God wants; we can rest in the posture of receiving open-handedly, trusting there is always enough manna for our day.
If you could have a dinner party with anyone - living or dead - who would be at that table?
Can I have a huge table? Jesus as the host would be heavenly! I often imagine Him lovingly setting the table before me, and I am invited to join Him alongside other guests.
Having my ancestors, my great-grandparents (who passed away when I was little), grandparents (especially my “po-po,” my maternal grandma) and my own family at that table would mean a lot as we could celebrate the lineage and stories we are somehow shaped by.
I would long to meet all the women in the Bible, especially the nameless ones. I may say to Mary Magdalene, “I’m deeply sorry that you were described as a mere prostitute by some preachers when there was no mention that you were. You endured a tough life, being misunderstood and ill-labelled, yet you were the first daring evangelist!” I want to see Martha - she would be free to serve or rest at the table, as she is no longer bound to what the social code limits her as a woman.
Meeting Sir Harry Smith, the British diplomat in China, who helped to persuade Parliament to approve the Second Opium War, would be unearthing. (His monument is inside the St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, UK.) When Britain won the war, it traded an addictive and harmful drug called opium in China and expanded the British rule in Hong Kong, where I was born and raised. I wonder what dialogue we might have.
Sitting around the table and breaking bread with some late and living Christian writers, who each played a part in my spiritual formation, would be amazing, e.g. Macrina Wiederkehr, C.S. Lewis, Thomas Merton, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, J.I. Packer, Paul S. Fiddes, N.T. Wright, Walter Brueggemann, Hans Boersma, etc. If Plato could be there, I wonder if he would be open to a light-hearted debate. An in-person chat with St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Ignatius of Loyola would be deeply fascinating!
Lastly, I would be curious to meet my future self and let her hug me like an old friend
What books are sitting on your nightstand?
I’ve been reading about the theology of land, landlessness and people and how landlessness impacts people’s knowing, perceiving and relating to God. Also, how the memory of landlessness affects people’s identity, their ability to connect with the messianic salvation story, and the sense of perpetual incompleteness of the diaspora. In addition, I have a tower of books on my desk waiting to invigorate me. They are for my research paper about the illusive concept of time and space: Shakespeare’s theatre and eschatology.
Ivy is a trained and practising spiritual director pursuing her graduate theological studies with Regent College. On occasions, she preaches, offers seminars/workshops on Holy Listening and leads Lectio Divina in a group format by invitation. She serves our CCC community as an intercessor, scripture reader, and Parish Council and Dean’s Council for Multiculturalism and Diversity (DCMD) member. She enjoys being the wife of Terrence and the mother of a teenage son, Myles-Cohen.
Learn more about the spiritual practices Ivy embraces:
Visio Divina: https://mcab.ca/lectodivinavisiodivina
You can also learn more about Ivy Clark via her website, www.ivyclark.ca, or connect with her over tea/coffee.