A couple of weeks ago I started to practice The Examen. The Examen is a formal process that was handed down by St. Ignatius Loyala. It is a discipline that requires a daily check-in, a reflection over the events of the day. There are several steps that can get quite complicated but I prefer the more simple way that follows:
1. I get centered with some deep breaths and ask God to sit with me as I practice this examen.
2. I ask God to help me call to mind the things that God wants me to call to mind. (this is not the time for random, crazy thoughts!)
3. I begin by recalling all the moments during the day that I am grateful for. I turn the events and people in my mind and savor the richness.
4. Next, I recall moments during the day when I felt truly in the flow of God’s Grace…those times I cooperated with God…co-created or was a channel of love.
5. Then, I recall the times when I resisted God’s flow of grace…moments I turned my back on God’s divine plan, God’s will for me or others.
6. Finally, I ask for the grace to become the person God is calling me to be, moment by moment.
Apparently, this process should only take 5 minutes or so. I admit because I am still learning the practice, it is taking me more like 15 to 20 minutes. But I am assured by those who have been doing the Examen for some time that you find your way, that it melds into and becomes a part of you. It becomes almost second nature to you so that during your day you spontaneously become aware of God’s little nudgings. Eventually, the union between you and the Divine is such that as Paul writes, “It is no longer me, but Christ living through me.”
Its only been two weeks but I see some fruits. I feel like I am on alert. I have begun to experience a heightened sense of the importance of each encounter with another during my day. It happens like this: I approach someone or am approached and the encounter begins and then my mind leaps to attention and I think, “oh, yeah, this is important, this is THE thing.”
Its not everytime. I still am flipping out in traffic. And I can’t seem to disable that judging part of my brain but I am aware of it as it happens. And one of the other fruits of the practice is that God isn’t whacking me over the head with my failings. They sort of gently rise up and I think , oh, yeah, I did that.
Somehow they get swept way as I ask for the strength and the grace to become the me that God envisions.