Today, I would like to invite us to participate in a prayerful reflection in the form of an Examen. Examen’s are a useful technique for connecting with God and/or our inner being. They consist of reflective ways to acknowledge God’s presence and our emotions, as well as noting what we are grateful for. The Examen arises from the Jesuit tradition as it was created by St. Ignatius of Loyola. It was popularized more than 400 years ago but proves itself today to be effective for all people. I recommend settling yourself as you begin and getting comfortable. Know that inner peace is possible.
Like a rock settling on the bottom of a lake after it’s thrown in, let yourself settle.
1. Acknowledge how you are feeling in this moment. If being calm is hard, acknowledge it. If you find yourself frustrated or stressed, acknowledge it. God wants to be present in all parts of our lives—not just the easy or serene moments.
2. Ask for light and insight as you prepare to review your day. For some that light may come in the form of a sense of the Divine. For others it’s from a deep sense of your true self.
3. Take a moment to think about how COVID-19 has impacted your life. Even as we are being asked to distance ourselves from one another socially, ask yourself what connections you find yourself grateful for? Who makes you feel grounded and connected to God?
4. Public health issues have a way of making us recognize how interwoven our lives are with others in society. It can help us realize who we may often choose not to see or connect with. Is there a person or group of people especially affected by COVID-19 that you don’t often choose to see or connect with normally? What connections to others are you becoming more aware of? Who do you normally choose to reach out and connect to? Who do you avoid or refuse to see? If you can, picture the faces of these people. What connections do you take for granted in your life? What connections impact you the most?
5. Note the emotions you feel when you think of these individuals without judging or overanalyzing. Simply acknowledge them, pay attention, and listen to where God may be speaking.
6. As you think of the ways we are connected or disconnected to one another, pick a connection (or lack thereof) that seems important, significant, or is manifesting itself the strongest. Pause and reflect on where you’re being invited to grow from that moment. If you are a person of faith, take a moment to pray with it.
7. God gifted us with limitless creativity and imagination. Even in this time of separation and possible isolation, what is one way you can maintain meaningful connection to others—whether directly, through technology, or intentional focus and attention?
Take a deep breath and moment of quiet. When you are ready, return to your day.
– By Susan Haarman