If you are interested in trying a new evening spiritual practice (even with kids or a reluctant partner), try this one.* From youngest to oldest, it’s a keeper. It is just a simplified version of The Examen from St. Ignatius. In it, you quiet and center yourself and listen for two experiences from your day: a Consolation and a Desolation. I have found that when I take the time to record these in my journal that I discover newnesses about myself and God to treasure.
Each evening, try lighting a special candle (kids love this!) to help yourself get quiet inside, think back through your day to see where you experienced a moment in which you felt you most easily could give or receive love. This is your Consolation experience — it points to where God was working with you with ease, to assist your natural grace to be expressed in the world. Then think back to see where you experienced a moment in which you felt just the opposite—a time when you felt it was maybe impossible to receive or give love to yourself or another. This is your Desolation experience—it points to where God was blocked by something going on, which didn’t allow your natural grace from God to be experienced or expressed— and is also a direction pointer.
Listening for God’s presence through a form of St. Ignatius’ Examen or other forms of prayer or journaling can help to better direct the yeses (and nos) in your life so that they become truly divine, because they are voiced from a deep place of knowing within yourself, not out of guilt or coercion or a false sense of self. Viewed collectively over a length of time can have incredible value.
The two questions, asked in different ways:
SET #1: When today did I give or receive the most love?
When today did I give or receive the least love?
SET #2: What moment today gave me the most life?
What moment today drained life out of me?
SET #3: When today did I have the most sense of belonging to myself, others, God and the universe?
When today did I have the least sense of belonging?
Blessings of connection and illumination to you on this beautiful Autumnal day,
*Ideas taken from Simple Ways to Pray for Healing, Matthew, Sheila, and Dennis Linn, Paulist Press, 1998.