An Examen for life during coronavirus
by Susan Haarman, Ignatian Solidarity Network (www.ignatiansolidarity.net)
The Examen is a traditional method of prayerful awareness that is a bedrock in Ignatian spirituality. It’s a short, easy way to reflect on your day and become more mindful about where you are experiencing grace or goodness and where there is room in your actions and life for growth. Especially in times of uncertainty and rapid change, taking time to reflect becomes essential.
What people don’t often realize is that the Examen is exceptionally flexible and adaptive. It can be used to review your day or it can be adapted to hone in on a specific issue or focus. So, in light of the new set of circumstances many of us find ourselves in with the Coronavirus, it is helpful to adapt the Examen to this unique situation:
First, take a moment to settle. Take a deep breath. Get comfortable. Like a rock settling on the bottom of a lake after it’s thrown in, let yourself settle.
1. Acknowledge truthfully how you are feeling in this moment. If being calm is hard, acknowledge it and let God know. If you find yourself frustrated or stressed, acknowledge it. God wants to be present in all parts of our lives—not just the easy or serene moments.
2. Ask for God’s light as you prepare to review your day. What does God want to bring to your attention in this time?
3. Take a moment to think about how the Coronavirus is affecting your life. Even as we are being asked to distance ourselves from one another socially, ask yourself what connections you find yourself grateful for? What makes you feel grounded and connected to God, to others, to creation?
4. Public health issues have a way of making us recognize how interwoven our lives are with others in society. It can help us realize who we may often choose not to see or connect with. What connections to others are you becoming more aware of, perhaps ones you have previously taken for granted? Who do you normally choose to reach out and connect to? Who do you avoid or refuse to see? If you can, picture the faces of these people.
5. Note the emotions you feel when you think of these individuals without judging or overanalysing. Simply acknowledge them, pay attention, and listen to where God may be speaking.
6. As you think of the ways we are connected or disconnected to one another, pick a connection (or lack thereof) that seems important or is manifesting itself the strongest. Pause and reflect on where you are being invited to grow from that moment. Speak to God from the heart about whatever this stirs in you.
7. God has gifted us with limitless creativity and imagination. Even in this time of separation and possible isolation, what is one concrete way you can maintain meaningful connection to others—whether directly, through technology, or intentional focus and attention?
Take a deep breath and a moment of quiet. When you are ready, return to your day.