Photo credit: freeimages.com
This week has brought opportunity for morning risers to awaken to a new pattern of light. The sun has begun (on its best days) to ascend earlier and rouse reluctant sleepers with sunbeams pushing through our bedroom curtains.
Many of us, though, won’t count such a blessing until it’s overshadowed by the dark of early winter mornings. Submerged into grayness our hearts will pine for what we feel we have lost. We may already hear complaints of the dark to come even when the sun is still shining.
Being in the present moment—those we appreciate and those we don’t—is a valuable tool in discernment. Such presence of thought can help you identify enjoyment and displeasure; allow you to tap into your natural inclinations; enlighten you and challenge you and help guide you as you gradually move through the light and the dark to tomorrow.
Very simply, it opens you up to examination of conscience: a method many Catholics are first taught when preparing for the Sacrament of Reconciliation (a prayerful practice of looking at the life choices you make in regards to sin). St. Ignatius of Loyola created an in-depth tool for such discernment—the Examen—which revolves around daily reflection.
For me the Examen works best in written form, when it’s tactile. Identifying what’s in your head and putting it to paper can allow for deeper contemplation of the themes you notice reoccurring daily, weekly or monthly. In discernment, entering into the method and routine of the Examen can bring clarity to questions that have been circling in your mind. Writing can make uncertainty real, but can also tell what is true for you. Give yourself time to sit in prayer with your thoughts; allowing curiosity, temporarily suspending judgment. Look where you're leaning—it will help you gravitate toward decision.
Are you willing to explore a new way of assessing your experience?
What will such a daily practice as the Examen require of you?
To learn more about the Examen, including a five-step version for daily practice, visit www.IgnatianSpirituality.com.