Prayer last night (day 9 of lent) bought me a little Ignatian Examen prayer. I simple started my prayers the way I normally do and reviewed my day for any remnants of the following all too human tendencies:
- My fears
- My attachments
- My need for control
- Illusions of entitlement
Each of these may not be readily apparent at first glance or very familiar friends with our psyche! My guided “examin” led me to reflect on each and theme and eventually to choose a theme and ask God for help tomorrow with that one issue.
I don’t know about you but I can store up fears pretty easily, have attachments very quickly, attempt to organize and control what I perceive as necessary outcomes for the day, and sometimes have an out-sized expectation of what I deserve or what should be!
Yesterday was a terrible day. Today, starting with a prayer of gratitude and further reflection on last nights reorientation (which apparently I needed) today was nothing short of miraculous for me. If I could bottle it, I would fall prey to becoming attached to the graces and success of today by trying to preserve the good feelings I have now at the end of the day into a bottle to hold and preserve (as opposed to the downtrodden spirit of the night before!)
The secret which sometimes evades me is my God is there by my side during turbulent times as well as good times – if I just took the time to be aware.
My day was not uneventful. I was presented with the same stress, challenges, and pressures that come with my professional calling daily. Family and personal commitments did not disappear. Yet my day was somehow harmonized and peaceful. Despite having activity and responsibilities from 7 a.m. up to 9:30 p.m. I had a day that was beyond my expectations. And yet there was no one thing that was dramatic or immense. Today was sufficient for me!
There was a freedom today that I can only describe as God’s grace. I write this with great trepidation and vulnerability. It is a subjective experience that others can attack as co-incidence, grandiosity (who is he to claim he has received God’s grace today), happenstance, accidental, delusional, or many other not so dignified adjectives. I am guilty at having had cynical thoughts about many a believer that has expressed being recipients of graces from God. Some are hard to fathom and yet expressed by people that I know to be genuine and humble.
I am tiring now and my eyes are heavy. I will retire shortly. Today though, before I retire, was a glorious day. Not everyday will be this way. I have had periods of spiritual aridity as most of us have rather frequently in this secular world. I do not understand or fully grasp the paradoxes of human suffering, the role of divine Providences, or the countless theological foundations that our tested everyday by our human actions and relationships to each other and to God.
What I do understand today was prayer from last night and the nights preceding was answered for me today. It is astounding to me to make that claim. I do not like to make claims I cannot prove and yet I feel compelled to share the power of prayer and this little FACE examin that led me last night (from Fr. Mark Thibodeaux’s book Reimagining the Ignatian Examen).