Examen is an approach to grow in self-understanding and in openness to Gods love and God’s self-direction for your life. Specifically, Examen helps us get in touch with our feelings and reactions to daily experience and identify what gives us joy and what brings us sorrow. Experiences that seem small and insignificant at the time take on greater meaning when we recognize they are part of a larger pattern.
St. Ignatius of Loyola was born in 1491 in northern Spain. He was the youngest of 13 children. As a young man, he served as a Page of the Treasurer of the castle, and loved wine, women and song! He was reported to be addicted to gambling and was described as contentious.
At the age of 30, Ignatius was wounded in battle defending Spain against France. During his long recuperation, he read about the life of Christ. He was drawn to Him and the profound effect Christ had on His followers. At the same time he was drawn to a noble lady he loved, and to fame and glory. As he reflected, he found that his daydreams of the woman resulted in feelings of restlessness while his reflections on Christ brought peace. This marked the beginning of his conversion. It also marked the beginning of his profound teaching on developing spiritual discernment through the examination of emotions, feelings and thoughts. Ignatius taught that the work of the spirit is revealed not just through the intellect. God is found in everything including our emotions and feelings.
Examen is a spiritual discipline that my staff is practicing this year. When we get together each Tuesday, we reflect on the past week and ask two questions. 1 – What was the most life-giving thing? 2 – What was the most life-taking thing? And by practicing Examen, we begin to notice trends of what gives us life and what takes it away. We begin to notice where we see God. So since this blog is about where I see God in my life, I’m going to start sharing my weekly Examen reflections. Feel free to help me see God through my reflections, or share where you are seeing God in your own lives.
This past week, talking with people who showed genuine care for and interest in me was the most life-giving. I felt supported and validated in knowing that they were listening to me with true concern. I received words of encouragement that blessed me with positivity and the motivation to keep going.
The most life-taking thing has been the feeling of discouragement about relationships and communication. It always feels great to be accepted into a group that you didn’t expect to be accepted by. But I have been feeling discouraged when I have to work so hard to feel like a true part of a group I expected to naturally click with. And I’m not really sure how to address these concerns in order to bring about change in this situation.