The story is told of a monk who visited New York City. One morning the monk and his friend set off to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art, all the way across town. The monk’s friend, a native New Yorker, said he knew of a route by which they could save time. They arrived in short order. Seeing a park bench outside the museum, the monk sat down. “What are you doing?” asked his friend. “It’s a lovely day; I am appreciating the time we saved,” replied the monk.
How often do we save time, only to fill it with more busy-ness? The church invites us to observe the season of Lent. Beginning with Ash Wednesday on February 18 up to Easter on April 5, for forty days we are invited to turn from our busy-ness and reflect upon and renew our relationship with God. Among many recommended spiritual practices, I invite you to try the examen.
The examen is a daily practice of asking yourself two questions.
At the end of each day, on your own, with another, or with your family, take a moment to be still in God’s presence. Invite God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit) to open your heart and mind as you consider:
For what moment today am I most grateful?
When were you most able to give and receive love today? What was said or done in that moment that made it special? Breathe in the gratitude.
For what moment today am I least grateful?
When were you least able to give and receive love today? What was said or done in that moment that made it difficult? Be with whatever you feel without trying to fix it in any way. Breathe in God’s love; let God love you just as you are.
Practicing the examen helps me notice patterns, make choices, and see the presence of God in my daily life. Amid myriad choices and pressures, we may each create breathing space to pause and savor the life and love we have been given. May you have a blessed and holy season of Lent. And, keep it Simple.