Examen for the Year: Reviewing Our Memories
Katie Harmon-McLaughlin of Walnut Creek, CA, USA
So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. -Luke 2:16-20
Where have I been most aware of the presence and activity of God in my daily life? What moments have been most formative over the past year? How did I respond to challenges? With whom did I grow in relationship? Where did I spend my time? What was the “theme” of my inner dialogue throughout those days? Where did I focus my interior and exterior energy?
Reviewing our memories in the prayer of examen is more than an exercise in nostalgia. In silence, we create space to allow moments that call for more attention to surface-whether to savor in delight or to make us aware of what was previously unseen. Nothing is too insignificant for this movement of the prayer. Sometimes small pleasures are vessels of grace-a slow morning, a good cup of coffee, a rich conversation.
We don’t just notice the moment; we pay attention to how we were in the moment. What thoughts occupied the mind? What emotions accompany the memory, then and now? Where is the Spirit’s invitation? Major life events also come into review-a graduation, a wedding, a baptism, an illness, a career change, a move. How have you been shaped by these transitions and changes? What was the state of your heart as you moved through them? How do you see and feel them now?
Jim Manney writes that in this review, we are “especially interested in our response to God. God is relentlessly, abundantly active…We respond-eagerly or grudgingly, wholeheartedly or fitfully. The examen is a way to keep track of the quality of our response” (A Simple Life-Changing Prayer, Loyola Press, 2011, p. 47). This prayer refuses to let us compartmentalize our lives into sacred moments and other moments. Regularly engaging in this practice awakens us to God’s pervasive presence in every part of life. Doctrine and Covenants 165:1c echoes this invitation by reminding us that “opportunities abound in your daily lives if you choose to see them.”
What is the quality of our response to the God who shows up in every place, every moment, at all times? Was I aware of God at the soccer game, the grocery store, the dinner table? Did I notice God in the hospital room, the airplane, the neighborhood? What can reviewing my memories reveal about patterns of attention or neglect to Holy invitations resident in each moment? When have I lived most naturally aligned with the divine flow moving through the world?
“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
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.