Examen for the Year: Confess and Reconcile
Katie Harmon-McLaughlin of Walnut Creek, CA, USA
“My heart exults in the LORD;
my strength is exalted in my God….
“There is no Holy One like the LORD,
no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God….
He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap…. -1 Samuel 2:1a, 2, 8a
As we continue to search through our memories in the prayer of examen, we inevitably come across moments when we were not fully aware of or in alignment with Divine Presence. In humility, we recognize where we failed to honor the worth of another person, to dwell in God’s presence in a moment of beauty, or to be attentive to our families and friends in times of need. The aim of this movement of the prayer is not to induce shame, but to stoke our awareness of thoughts and actions contrary to our deep desire for connection with God, others, and creation.
Sometimes this neglect is accidental. We may be tired or distracted in the rush of daily activity. Trying to make it to that meeting on time, we miss seeing the person holding the sign on the side of the road as a beloved child of God. We fail to gasp in awe at the stunning shades of pink and orange sprawling across the sky in the setting sun.
Resistance is at work in us when we sense the Spirit leading somewhere and we choose not to follow…making excuses or stubbornly refusing! Perhaps God is seeking to be present in a tense relationship, but holding onto the feeling of being right or feeling wronged is stronger than the impulse of reconciliation. Perhaps a new understanding is dawning in the soul that threatens previous norms or assumptions. While the Spirit is opening up new growth, doggedly holding onto an old way of being is safer for the time being.
This movement of the prayer is about becoming aware of what is inhibiting our growth in God or restricting us from freely following the Spirit’s call in the world. It is as much interior as it is exterior. We notice moments of distance and desolation like that feeling of dread when driving to a job that no longer feels right or the irritation that arises when a certain person enters the room. Even the way we speak about ourselves to ourselves is important to notice. When do self-defeating narratives keep us from faithful, courageous response?
Examining these memories, moments, feelings, and patterns aids us in discerning where the Spirit is leading in the future. We pray for reconciliation as we seek deeper unity with God, others, creation, and often our own selves. “God, make us more aware,” we pray. “Open our eyes to your sacred presence in all things. Give us the wisdom and courage to pay more attention to the beauty around us, the feelings within us, and the precious relationships that shape our days.”
Where is the Spirit gently inviting your honest reflection as you review your memories of the past year? What patterns of thought or behavior restricted your response to God’s call? What do you need to see to become more whole? What situations or relationships are in need of reconciliation as you look toward the New Year?
“God within, God around. In all creation, God is found” (Randall Pratt, Community of Christ Sings 20).
Prayer of Examen
Journal your responses to the questions above or spend time reflecting in silence.
Today’s Prayer for Peace
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