The practice of using the examen of Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order, is a worthy discipline. He recommended that the brothers examine their lives twice each day—at lunch and at night before bed. For me, doing it once a day is hard enough! I try to do it before falling asleep at night. This way, if something happened during the day that was really bugging me, I can let it go and focus on finding gratitude for what went well. (An added benefit is that then I can fall asleep instead of brooding and tossing and turning.)
For what moment today am I most grateful? For what moment today am I least grateful? When did I give and receive the most love today? When did I give and receive the least love today? When did I feel the most alive today? When did I feel the life draining out of me?
The examen can cure one of the spiritual illnesses that we can fall prey to (especially when stressed out)—resentment and envy. For me, it can start to reveal patterns and reminds me of how much I have to be thankful for—even on a very bad day!
This is adapted from a reflection written by Kate Elliott that was published on the Women of the ELCA blog.