March 21, 2020

Welcome to Spring! It is a bright and sunny day in the city of Hamilton, and though I live on the 10th floor, I can hear birds singing. A walk in the sunshine is good for us, and recommended even with the restriction. So go for a walk if you are able. Just remember to stay 6 ft. or 2 meters away for other people. Do not touch your face. Perhaps take some tissue to open and close doors and push elevator buttons if you live in an apartment. And wash your hands well for 20 seconds or more when you return. Sunshine, whether felt during a walk or pouring through a window, is good medicine.

On this Saturday morning, I have decided to provide you with a piece that was in our last newsletter on practicing the Examen. The card with the 5 questions I took from http://www.ignatianspirituality.com. The Examen is a practice that was developed by Ignatius of Loyola. You read about him here.

Some Words about the Examen

Below is an Examen Prayer Card by  dotMagis Editor from: https://www.ignatianspirituality.com/examen-prayer-card/ This contains the 5 questions for foci for the examen. Many use it as a daily practice, and I though it might be a good practice for looking at our first week of living the reality of social distancing and/or isolation in the midst of a pandemic emergency.

The examen consists of 5 prayerful questions to look at or exmine your day.  It is usually done near the end of the day, but you pick the time that works for you.

Think of prayer as a two-way conversation with God or the Creator, or the Holy, or with Jesus.  During one residency for Appreciative Way, we were invited each day to go for a walk and imagine Jesus walking beside us, and talk to Jesus about what was on our mind, or about our recent teaching.  For anyone not used to just sitting in silence, imagining a conversation with Jesus can work quite well.

If you are sitting in silence to reflect each question, just relax into your breath.  Don’t worry about thoughts that come up, just let them drift by and return to the silence.  If you need to centre yourself in the silence pick a work that feels right to you (one, love, ….. whatever helps you stay centred) or think of an image that you can focus on in the quiet.  I sometimes picture myself on the beach (a specific favourite beach with the waves lapping).  You may also wish to light a candle to focus.

Because the examen has several steps for the examen, the silence is a little easier because you can enage in an active time of remembering and imagining as you move through each of the 5 parts. 

When you have finished your Examen for the day, you may wish to end by “grounding” yourself with a familiar prayer (such as the Lord’s Prayer), or reading something familiar (a favourite scripture or reading).

There is no wrong way to do this, but there is a pattern to this daily examen.  If you can’t do it every day, don’t stress.  Just do it when you can.  It does help if you can make it a habit by setting aside a regular time and place for it.  Prayer and meditation stretch our spiritual muscles.  The more we use these muscles, the easier the process become.

May the prayer you choose enrich your life and your experience of the Divine in the every day.

The questions re-typed 1.  Ask God for light. I want to look at my day with God’s eyes, not merely my own. 2. Give thanks. The day I have just lived is a gift from God. Be grateful for it. 3.  Review the day. I carefully look back on the day just completed, being guided by the Holy Spirit. 4. Face your shortcoming. I face up to what is wrong—in my life and in me. (I would be careful here. Do not be overly harsh in your judgement of yourself.  Rather think of it in terms of: Is there a place where I could have done better? 5.  Look toward the daÿ to come.  Ask where I need God in the day to come.

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