Lent in everyday language is written off of the pages of my own story where I play the leading role of wife, mother, author, and sometimes-scholar of spiritual formation/soul care and prayer. For each day of Lent, I am committing to fast from my coveted morning sleep ( yikes) and practice the daily examen. Simply put, the examen is a centuries old practice that helps us notice where God is working in our everyday-ordinary-activity filled lives.
If you have even a small desire to join in this 40-day journey, please know that you do not have to get up in the dark like I am! But perhaps in this season of Lent where we might be tempted to give up eating sugar ((again)) or not participate in Lent at all ((again)).. perhaps we can make a change in the way we commonly spend 30 minutes or more of our day and simply ask ourselves two questions about our day.
That’s it. Two questions.
Give up some time spent on pleasurable activities for 40 days. Read through some reflective questions. Respond here or in a journal or on your own blog. And the hope for all of us is that we will learn together how to recognize what things in life are life giving and what things in our lives are more likely to bring us despair and disconnection. Hint: If you are doing the examen in the morning hours, you may want to reflect on the day that has just passed. If you are doing these exercises in the evening, you would review the events of the day you are in. Just saying.
Day One Questions
- For what moment today am I most grateful?
Today I am most grateful for the moment I was able to have with my nine year old daughter who is hurting from a difficult friendship. She asked me to walk her up to the school building but then told me ” That’s good mama. I’m fine now”. I stood and watched her walk straight into the place where her heart could surely be bruised again- across the pavement– getting smaller and smaller in the distance. She never turned back. It is a tug for me when I want to be perfectly available to fight against all of my children’s painful moments, that somehow my grown-up presence will protect their little souls from damage. I am deeply grateful that God is growing both of us in our ability to walk through pain without letting the pain walk its way all over us.
- For what moment today am I least grateful?
I am least grateful for the moment when I was late for an appointment ((again)). I stayed in the parking lot just a few minutes too late talking about nothing of consequence while the margin grew less and less for me to leave and be on time. I arrived over 15 minutes late and I noticed how often this is the case for me. I justify this behavior by telling myself that I just live “in the present” and ” I have no concept of time”. But today when I walked in to the small room where the meeting had already started, I recognized a lack of care for others when I consistently show up late. This is old behavior and it generally puts mean in a cycle of guilt/shame/feeling immature. Not fun.
How does this practice of examen help you notice God today?