Find Your Inner Iggy

Iggy’s Cannonball Moment

Question 1: What’s your cannonball moment?


CannonballMy Cannonball Moment on the Desert Road

by Kerry Weber

Although I was driving across desert roads by myself, I had never felt less alone. I felt connected and free, grateful and hopeful.

In my year as a special education teacher on the Navajo Nation in Arizona, I’d had the chance to learn from my students and tend to sheep; to travel to National Parks and local historic sites; to understand more fully the injustices in our country and my Gospel call to serve; to understand how little I understood. I had traveled to a place where I knew no one, tried to ground myself in things that (I hoped) mattered; built a circle of friends, been supported by a community.

And now, here I was, the road open before me, driving to the airport so that I could leave a place that felt like home to head back to my hometown, which suddenly seemed unfamiliar. I felt uncertain about the future but buoyed by the richness of the past year, which was once itself part of the uncertain future.

Somewhere along the way, I had gotten to know these roads, and I loved moving forward now with increasing speed. I had gotten to that place where I no longer relied on a map to guide me, and I just kept driving those roads I had learned to navigate by heart. And the heart, it turns out, is an excellent guide.

All aboard with Iggy and Kerry Weber! Kerry is the author of Mercy in the City, published by Loyola Press, and the managing editor at America magazine.

All aboard!  Iggy and Kerry

Kerry Weber is the author of Mercy in the City: How to Feed the Hungry, Give Drink to the Thirsty, Visit the Imprisoned, and Keep Your Day Job, published by Loyola Press. Weber, based in New York City, is also a Mercy Associate and the managing editor of America magazine.

20 thoughts on “Iggy’s Cannonball Moment

  1. Michael Crate

    My CannonBall Moment, was a five-week mission trip that got the CannonBall rolling.

    It was on a program called S.E.R.V.E. (Summer Endeavour in a Redemptorist Volunteer Experience) in Toronto, Canada. It was 2011 and I had just finished my first year of university. It was a moment in time when I couldn’t help but want to discover what God really wanted me to do with my life!

    This experience of living together in community with seven other young adults, praying together every day, and serving at an apostolate in Toronto, really gave me a glimpse of what the Christian life of joy really is. The desire for a life like this, doing my best to serve God with joy each day I’m given, really has influenced my life, my desires, my goals.

    S.E.R.V.E. 2011 got the ball rolling for me, and now it is continuing to roll in July 2014. God is full of surprises, and I am still surprised and amazed that this experience is still helping direct my path in life today.

    I’m really thankful you’ve given me this moment to #FindIggy – It’s given me a moment to reflect on how good God has been to me, and to not be afraid to get back on the path He has set out for me. This was my CannonBall Moment. Thank you!

  2. Brent Fernandez

    My cannonball moment wasn’t one moment, but a series of moments that have led me to where I am today. Perhaps just as we can find God in All Things, each moment can be a cannonball moment if we let it.

    The first cannonball moment that I can recall was a service trip I attended as a high schooler. My youth minister told me that the youth group was going on a service trip. I wasn’t interested until he said two words: Free Day. We would work on houses in and around Mobile, AL and on the final day of the trip we would go to the beach. I looked around at the girls in the youth group and imagined that a day on the beach with cute girls in bikinis would be amazing. I quickly asked my mom if I could go.

    When we arrived, I was put to work on a house with five other teenagers and two adults. The house was in disrepair. It had graffiti everywhere, no working plumbing, a leaky roof, and no locks on the front and back door. The owner of the house was a Vietnam veteran named Sherman. He had just moved in and before he lived there, the house had been used by drug dealers. Sherman told us that all he really wanted was a front and back door to lock. It was a very unsafe neighborhood and people would break into his house.

    We worked hard all week. I was put in charge of framing the front and back door. As a 15-year-old, I had never done anything like this. My youth minister led me through the process and I put in the doors while the rest of our group worked on everything else. I put the doors in and handed Sherman the keys to his new door. He cried and hugged me. In this moment I experienced God, who is Love. It shattered my ideas and dreams I had for my life and changed them. Instead of going to college to make a lot of money at a job, I studied things like Theology, Social Justice, and “Structural Violence.” Though each experience of connectedness with people has led me closer to God and others, it was this moment as a 15-year-old that got it all started. I still don’t have it all figured out and I fail every day, but with God’s grace I continue to grow and become the person I am called to be.

    1. Librada D. Castillo

      I am very touched by this sharing. Aiming for a high paying job is so ordinary. When I was teaching, I had hoped my students would aim for doing what you did.

  3. Pat Woolley

    In 8th grade an organist was needed to play at the First Friday Parochial School Mass….My grandfather started me on his Hammond B3 when I was four, so at 12-1/2 years of age I played at my First Mass. ….Although I have had many “careers”in design and advertising – my one constant has been as an Organist and Minister of Music – for 47 years! I have met wonderful people in the clergy and in music ministry — the more learned and talented, the more gracious they have been to me…I have learned much “growing up” around humble and less than humble clergy (keeping it “real”) – It Has All Been Good! Although I went to Art School to be an Artist – I have been a church musician my whole life – ever trusting in the Holy Spirit – whether in creating art, or planning and playing the music we offer as prayer at Mass. (Pray that I organize my loose music better, practice a little bit more, please!) God Bless Us Everyone! p.s. May I leave you with one last story….I met one priest whose chalice is green cloisonne with a gold flame ….I thought it was quite different, and so asked Father how his Chalice happened to be as it is…This priest’s mother died when he was born; his father was Italian, but his mother was Jewish…..He never knew his mother in a physical sense….Father told me his Chalice had the Gold Burning Bush of Moses on it in honor of his mother’s Jewish tradition. Every time I drank from Father’s Chalice, I said a prayer for his mother and the priest, because he was such a good son to have designed his Chalice with his mother in mind and heart. The Unconditional Love of a son. Awesome and Precious. Priests are people too.

  4. Christine Sorensen

    My Cannon Ball Moment occurred when I was 16 in 1967 when my 52 year old father died much too young. He was a wonderful man and loving father. During the long, lonely journey of grief many wonderful people – friends, teachers, neighbors and relatives stayed by me in many supportive ways. They let me know that I wasn’t alone in what felt like a very isolated time. It was during this time in my life that I learned the importance of listening and presence.
    Now, almost 47 years later, I am a Pastoral Minister and much of my ministry is with people who are in grief over many different types of loss. I am blessed by their willingness to allow me to support them as needed.

  5. Carol Zuegner

    My cannonball moment came when I said yes when my theology colleague John O’Keefe asked me if I’d like to be part of a project involving students in making short documentaries about faith and people on the margins.

    As a journalist, I’ve always felt the best of journalism is telling people’s stories and bearing witness. These projects in the Dominican Republic, Uganda and rural Alaska have tossed me out of my comfort zone and have made me learn new things about the world and myself.

    The work with my brilliant colleagues John and videographer/artist Tim Guthrie has pushed my own creativity. The work with the students has been the most fulfilling learning-teaching experience of my career.

    And getting to know people in the Dominican Republic, Uganda and Alaska has made me a better person and a better journalist. The journalism ideal of bearing witness to me fits with the Jesuit concept of being present. Telling people’s stories helps me find God in all things.

    So, that yes in an outdoor cafe in downtown Omaha turned out to be a cannonball moment. Served with a side of quiche.

  6. Beth Scanlon

    My cannonball moment was when I accepted a position as a Jesuit Volunteer at Hubbard Outreach in Webster, MA in 1978. I had no idea the roads I would travel as a result of that decision. What I learned from the good people I lived with and from the many people who came through the doors of the center have stayed with me to this day.

    I am a campus minster at a Jesuit college and I borrow so much from the lessons that I learned through JVC. Actually, they are the foundation of my life – prayer, lifestyle, justice and community.

    Thank you for this opportunity to reflect and share.

  7. Susan Kurek

    After a painful divorce, I returned to school and earned an education degree to be able to support myself and my four children. Several of my children were experiencing mental health issues that resulted in troubles in school and with the law. After seven years of teaching, I felt I had no choice but to stay home with them. I felt lost and abandoned by God. I attended Mass weekly, but I felt nothing but pain. I considered taking my own life, but felt I didn’t even have the freedom to do that, because then, who would care for my children?

    I finally told God that I could no longer carry this burden and that he needed to take care of everything, as I no longer had any control over what was happening in my life. At that moment, I literally felt the burden being lifted from my shoulders! A little voice addressed my consciousness: “Are you ready to serve me now?” That little voice was my cannonball.

    The next day I inquired about the lay program at our local seminary. I was accepted and found my way back to God over the next four years, earning my Masters in Pastoral Ministry.

    The children are grown and have blessed me with grandchildren. They are slowly resolving their issues. I am happy serving God in a wonderful parish. All is gift and I am so very grateful! God is so good!

  8. Sara Damewood

    I was bombarded by a series of little cannonballs in the form of Fr. James Martin’s Gospel tweets. I thought I was going to practice Ignatian Spirituality. I never dreamed I would be led back to my Catholic faith! It truly was a leap for me after being a Unitarian Universalist most of my adult life. I think I got to a point where I surrendered, thinking of my own logic as inadequate, embracing Mystery and remembering that nothing is impossible with God.

  9. M. O'Malley

    My Cannonball Moment happened when I was just five years-old and contracted polio. A terrified little boy whose family was not permitted to visit him in the hospital for fear of spreading this dreadful disease. My mom was allowed to visit once a week; I only saw my dad and my brothers and sisters through a window. The one person who was allowed to visit daily was our family priest, Fr. Mike. A lifelong friend of my parents, I had been named for him. During his daily visits, we would read Bible stories and he taught me to pray the Rosary. During my months in the hospital I often had another visitor, a childhood “invisible” friend. Only this invisible friend was very real to me. He sat on my bed, he held my hand, he comforted me, he prayed for me. During one of my mom’s weekly visits, she observed me talking with my friend and asked who it was. I replied, “Jesus.” From those scary days of being so terribly sick, I have always had a very close and personal friendship with Jesus.

    As I was recuperating at home and starting school, I would hang out with Fr. Mike. He was like a second father to my siblings and me, but I had an especially close bond with him because of his daily visits. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to serve God and to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, and to follow Fr. Mike. Knowing that my calling was to teach, rather than to be a parish priest, I was ordained a Jesuit priest. I guess, as I think about it, I didn’t need a cannonball to strike me to lead me to God, but a life-threatening, life-altering disease certainly influenced the course of my life.

    I have been truly blessed to serve God in the capacity as teacher, mentor, priest, friend. My students have taught me so many things about life, whether they were high school students, university students, or young children in third world countries who want nothing more than clean water, food, shelter, and an education. I have been immeasurably blessed by all who I have been able to serve.

  10. Bob Swain

    My cannonball moment was in high school after confirmation. I was lying in bed asking God to help me make sense of it all – of Him and what I was supposed to do with the rest of my life. In somewhat spiritual distress, I was asking Him for a central key of faith; of what it all meant.

    He answered my question with that inner voice that told me, ” I cannot promise you health, wealth, success, or promise you a long life, but I can promise you that I will be with you every step of the way to guide and comfort you through whatever you will face. And in the end – eternal life. Then it seemed as though Matthew 6:25-34 was read to me word for word. “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink………”

    I have never doubted God’s presence since then.

  11. susan

    I always knew that I was born to help people, but couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to do. I lacked that faith in God to help me make decisions.
    I went to work in clerical jobs at hospitals until that day in July 1986 when I saw hospice nurses tenderly caring for my dying Father’s bedsore.
    As I watched them, a voice inside me said “You too can do this if you want to!”
    Amazing how the Spirit led me when I least expected it.
    I immediately enrolled in pre-requisites for entry to nursing school with the goal of becoming a hospice nurse.
    I’ve had an 18 year nursing career which were the best moments of my life–being a light to the dying, those under treatment, and to their families.
    Each patient taught me to love, to give myself entirely to them, and they returned the feeling by giving me hope and inspiration–to see them experience treatment, relapse and death with grace and love.

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  13. Don Harting

    My cannonball moment came while I was doing the 19th annotation retreat, back in 1998, under the auspices of the Spiritual Renewal Center in Syracuse, New York. We were contemplating the story in the book of Mark where Blind Bartimaeus cries out to Jesus as he walks along the road to Jericho. Jesus hears Bartimaeus’ cries, stops, and asks the blind man what he wants. As you may recall, Bartimaeus answers “Rabbi, I want to see.” Only the way we were instructed to pray this exercise, I imagined myself in Bartimaeus’ place, and Jesus was asking me: “What do you want?” I told him: “I want to be strong.” But the strength I had in mind was not physical, muscle-man type strength. It was the type of inner strength I lost when my parents divorced. Their divorce when I was an adolescent left me feeling weak, hindered, anxious, and burdened. I wanted Jesus to restore my inner strength and self-confidence to where it would have been had they never split up. That was (and still is) my heart’s desire. After so many years of being uncertain about what I wanted out of life, it felt great to be able to simply and honestly say what I wanted. I was 41 years old. It sounds so simple, but that was the beginning of a major change of direction in my life. Shortly after that guided prayer and journalling experience, I was blessed with another that helped move me along this new road. A second guided contemplation took me to the passage in Luke where Jesus says “Simon, Simon, Satan has desired to sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you, that your faith would not fail, and when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” At the suggestion of my prayer guide, I placed my own name in the passage instead of Simon’s. And I heard Jesus telling me that Satan had used my parents’ divorce to disintegrate my sense of self from within, setting the stage for paralysis due to inner conflict. My interpretation of Jesus’ message was that I was to stop complaining about all the ways I had been hurt by my parents’ divorce and simply get busy using the blessings, gifts, talents, education, and abilities I still had to start trying to strengthen my fellow children of divorced parents. Up until that point I was working as a secular newspaper/magazine journalist. I began to write freelance magazine articles about school- and church-based programs to help children of divorced parents. It was very affirming to learn that I was not the only man in America who was trying to help children of divorced parents, or to prevent more divorces from occurring. I’ll never forget the first paycheck I earned doing this work. It was $200 for a cover story in Presbyterians Today called Healing the Children. I’ll also never forget “Helping the Children Heal,” a panel discussion I organized in March 2007 at Christ the King Retreat House in Syracuse. And I’ll never forget the feelings of satisfaction, pride, and joy that came from being strong enough, by 2015, to have sent 1,400 free educational books about divorce to kids in 39 states through a website provided by a social service agency in Chester County, Pennsylvania. Today the journey continues.

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  15. Marie Pickard

    After doing the 19th Annotated Spiritual Exercises! I realized that I am never alone (my fear, parents divorced when I was 5). God is always with me no matter what I do or where ever I go.

  16. Carolyn Doyle

    I think my cannonball moments have been aimed at taking away my fears and making me simpler and more loving inside so that I can fulfil what I have come to see is my path, my vocation: to serve, encourage and enable the people in my life to fulfil theirs. It’s a support mission, which is me – I’ve always been more of a backstage person, except when God asks me to step up, when he also gives me what I need.

    I too had an experience of utter peace and joy after I had said to God ‘I can’t do this on my own!’ And I also had a massively liberating moment of realisation that although someone close to me always considered that her opinion should be taken as advice and acted on, I didn’t have to, however annoyed she was as a result.

    There have been other moments too – God is so good, and to feel his touch of love (quite often laced with gentle laughter at his child’s, well, childishness!) gives me the most precious moments of my life.

  17. Bobby Gothong

    My cannon ball moment was when typhoon Haiyan or locally known as typhoon Yolanda struck out beloved country the Philippines. It was in that moment that I realize that no matter how much wealth, glory and prestige we have gathered in our life. It really doesn’t matter. It can be taken away by our great redeemer in a split of a second. It was one of the most vulnerable times in my life. Not material vulnerability but spiritual. It was when I truly desired to find my deepest purpose. Why am I here lord? Please guide me to the light…

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