Examen for the Year: Discerning the Future
Katie Harmon-McLaughlin of Walnut Creek, CA, USA
Light dawns for the righteous,
and joy for the upright in heart.
Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous,
and give thanks to his holy name! -Psalm 97:11-12
Timothy Gallagher states, “The prayer of examen is the specific searching every day to find where God’s love is active this day, where God’s love is leading today, to discern what within me may be resisting that leading and to discover the growth to which God is calling me tomorrow…” (Elizabeth Liebert, The Way of Discernment, Westminster John Knox Press, 2008, p. 6).
The wisdom the prayer of examen reveals is that everything is connected. The Spirit is present in every moment. Our thoughts, attitudes, and actions all shape our lives and impact our relationships. Regularly reviewing the past awakens us to God’s activity in the present which opens possibilities and invitations in our future. The future unfolds from every sacred moment we are in. Our best chance for experiencing the future of our deepest hope is living that hope here and now, in all the details of daily life.
As this calendar year comes to an end, we pause to consider where we have been and where the Spirit may be leading. Something about these thresholds sparks fresh hope for a better tomorrow. Who we are now in these precious, fleeting days is creating the substance of whatever future will be. By growing in awareness of our daily patterns of living, we become more aware and free to follow wherever the Spirit may lead.
Jim Manney describes the examen as cultivating a “constant discerning awareness of God’s presence at all times” (A Simple Life-Changing Prayer, Loyola Press, 2011, p. 73). Becoming more practiced in noticing where God is at work, we respond more consistently and authentically, and the future we dream with God becomes real in our daily living.
As you have spent time reviewing your memories, now take a few moments to consider your future. Anticipate the circumstances and decisions that lie ahead. Imagine what life could look like as you become more available to God’s invitation in every moment. How might your interactions with co-workers or family members be different? Where do you hope to be more aware of divine presence in the days to come? What patterns and priorities do you desire to alter to be more aligned with God’s activity? Where is the Spirit leading in your life as you prepare to enter a 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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