WEEK FOUR: REFRESHMENT
Psalm 139:1-6, 23-24 (NRSV)
O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
O Lord, you know it completely.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is so high that I cannot attain it.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my thoughts.
See if there is any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Well, here we are almost midway through Lent, but Easter is still a few weeks away. We are almost to the spring season, but gray, cold winter days still linger. This week I believe we could all use a little refreshment for our souls, don’t you? Each day’s devotion will be a time to take a mini-retreat and refresh ourselves in the Spirit.
When I studied Spiritual Foundations through the Dominican Center of Marywood, I learned of St. Ignatius Loyola and the Daily Examen. This beautiful practice will be our mini-retreat for today. The Daily Examen may be done as a review of our day at its close, or as a review of the previous day as we begin a new one. We ask God to guide our examen, as God knows our hearts better than we do.
Psalm 139 describes God’s help so beautifully. If you have time, I recommend reading the entire chapter! Even though the psalmist asks God to search and know his heart, we understand that God already has. The “search me” phrases become our invitation for God to reveal what we need to know, what God has found and known in us.
There is an abundance of information and beautiful resources about the Examen and other practices at www.ignatianspirituality.com. Here is one version of our practice for today, the Examen:
“The Examen is a method of reviewing your day in the presence of God. It’s actually an attitude more than a method, a time set aside for thankful reflection on where God is in your everyday life. It has five steps, which most people take more or less in order, and it usually takes 15 to 20 minutes per day. Here it is in a nutshell:”
- Ask God for light. ~I want to look at my day with God’s eyes, not merely my own.
- Give thanks. ~The day I have just lived is a gift from God. Be grateful for it.
- Review the day. ~I carefully look back on the day just completed, being guided by the Holy Spirit.
- Face your shortcomings. ~I face up to what is wrong—in my life and in me.
- Look toward the day to come. ~I ask where I need God in the day to come.
(Version of the Examen from A Simple, Life-Changing Prayer by Jim Manney © Loyola Press)
May your time bless you with awareness of the gifts and graces of the day. May you feel God’s gentle, enlightening presence guiding your review. May you grow in love for the One who knows you even better than you know yourself- the One who unconditionally loves you even more than you love yourself.
All-knowing and searching God,
We know that you already know us completely. We know you have searched us thoroughly. Today we ask that you reveal anything and everything you would want us to know. We long to be perfectly obedient, fully loving, completely surrendered to you. Show us how. Amen.