Dear readers, I am writing to remind you of the Examen, that crucial daily prayer Ignatius said never to neglect. This is an important time to rekindle the Examen in your daily life or begin it for the first time. Staying centered in body, mind and spirit is difficult as we experience the pandemic. It is hard at so many levels especially for those working at the front lines but also for those sheltering at home. Human beings are uncomfortable with uncertainty in good times but the pandemic causes anxiety and fear to rise to new levels. Praying the Examen can help us gain perspective and restore hope. The Examen asks two questions, what gave me life today? (consolations), and where did I experience life draining from me? (desolations).* One can stop and ask these questions any time during the day alone or with others. Before retiring for the night is an especially good time to reflect on one’s day. All one really needs to do is to take a few deep breaths, quiet oneself and invite the Spirit’s help in reviewing the day. Where did I experience life today? In this time of heightened anxiety, it is just fine to focus only on the first question. What comes into focus can be simple things, such connecting with a friend, experiencing nature, evidence of the return of Spring. The noisy returning Sand Hill Cranes helped me to gain perspective realizing that if they have survived 35 million years, human kind can get through the pandemic. Our work is to look for God’s presence in all things and the Examen helps us do just that. Pray As You Go is a Jesuit website from the UK that offers several versions of the Examen including children. They share lovely music and the spoken word to guide the Examen. Keeping a journal can help one see over time how God has been working in one’s life. So, take a few minutes and commit your consolations and desolations to your journal. As you review your journal reflect on how God has been in all things in your life.
*There are many other ways to ask the Examen questions. The book by Dennis Linn, Sheila Linn and Matthew Linn, S.J., Sleeping with Bread, expand and bring much depth to the Examen.