A few weeks ago I wrote about the Communion Debacle our daughters experienced at church. It made me think about how hard it can be to truly enter into this sacrament and be present to God in the moment…reflecting on His grace and our sin. Sometimes we can feel so conspicuous and self-conscious, but not Jesus-conscious. It made me think about a spiritual practice tied to confession and forgiveness that I find really meaningful, but have let slide recently. It’s an ancient practice called the Examen you may be familiar with.
It simply means you look back over your day and identify where you sensed being most alive to God’s presence and pleasure most (the “spiritual” word is “consolation”) and where He felt most absent (“desolation”)…Where you experienced death or separation from God.
Life or Death,
It’s helpful for me to practice it with a regular activity like brushing my teeth, but if you’re more spiritual you might actually light a candle, get down on your knees and do it big time.
Last week I did it while I was riding my bike to Starbucks, asking God to help me look back over my yesterday. The times that came to mind when I felt most alive and experiencing a sense of God’s pleasure were in the midst of a couple of hard conversations I had. There was a sense of obedience, God’s grace, keeping short accounts… I thanked God for His equipping in those moments and the encouragement I felt at the end of these. The time when I felt “desolation” was when I neglected to follow through and serve in a way that I could have. I just pushed it out of my mind in favor of comfort. As I thought of that I asked forgiveness and committed to follow through at the next opportunity.
Kind of like when you’ve painted a room and the next day go back to see if there are streaks or drips you need to take care of.
Have you tried this? Want to try this?