Spiritual Disciplines: Examen
This is our first week of practicing a spiritual discipline together. We will meet as a group to chat about how it went and about all the things going on in our lives next week. You are welcome to join us or to just follow along on your own, reading and practicing the discipline each week as it feels right to you.
Read the introduction and pick one or two spiritual exercises to do. You might like to copy down the verse or go back and read more around it. The exercises are adapted from The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Calhoun.
We have been talking about the idea of treasuring as we go through times of transition in our lives. I think, perhaps, calling this a time of transition in the pandemic was a bit premature as I just read today that there may not be a time when we can declare ourselves virus free. On the other hand, I think we could always be declaring a time of transition in so many macro ways (societal, cultural, national) as well as micro ways (changes in jobs, births and deaths of loved ones, new school, travel, and also just day into night and back again).
When we reflect back on any time, we can think about what we saw, what God was doing in our lives, and what we want to keep with us. The examen is a structured and regular way of doing this, specifically noticing what God is doing in our lives. Practicing examen helps us to see well the love and grace that God is pouring into our lives rather than just letting the days blur past or staying focused on the lies.
At the end of each day make a time and space to reflect. You could write down your answers or share them with someone else. You don’t need to choose all of these questions. Choose the ones that you feel are most relevant for you.
Where did I give and receive love today? Where was I blocked from giving and receiving love?
For what moment today am I most grateful? For what moment today am I least grateful? What made that moment difficult? (Remember that this is just noticing, accepting, and seeing well, not trying to change who we are.)
When today did I have the deepest sense of connection to God, others, and myself? When today did I have the least sense of connection?
Where was I aware of living out of the fruit of the Spirit? Where was the Spirit blocked?
What do I want to let go of and give to God today? What do I want to keep carefully from today? Make a list of treasures of where you saw God’s grace and miracles in your life today.
Focus on a specific moment from today for which you were most able to give and receive love. What made that moment important to you? You might create a special ritual just for this: lighting a candle, writing about it, or drawing a picture, breathing mindfully as you stay with the gratitude you have for the ways God is present in your life.
Make a list of feeling words or use an emotions wheel. Select five emotions that you felt most strongly today. Think about what drains you and what gives you energy as you reflect on your day.
Instead of a daily practice, choose a weekly practice. Or pick a specific time this week to answer the examen questions above more broadly, encompassing this whole last year.
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. (Colossians 1:9)