During a time of isolation in a hospital (due to a major injury) St. Ignatius transformed from a self-centered spoiled teenager into a spiritual director, co-founder of the Jesuits and eventually a saint. His isolation enabled him to reflect on the nature of God and spend time in meditation and prayer.
St Ignatius created a spiritual exercise called the Awareness Examen, a prayerful reflection on the events of the day to help us detect God’s presence and discern God’s direction for us. I invite you to practice the Awareness Examen and see how God is speaking to you.
First, take a few deep breaths and ground yourself in God’s presence. Imagine God’s presence as an image, an emotion, a felt sense in your body; whatever feels right to you.
Once you are grounded, review the last day or two. Think of what you did, who you spoke with – scan through the activities, paying close attention to the emotions that accompanied the events of your day.
Notice the event that brought you the most joy or filled you with the most life. Focus on this moment – what are you seeing, hearing, sensing; who are you with; what was going on in your day at this time? Savor the sweetness of this moment. Allow gratitude to take hold of you as you share this gratitude with the Holy Spirit, who holds you in this experience.
Again, look over the events of the last couple of days. This time ask the Spirit to show you where God’s presence has been in your life, either in you or in others, and in the events of your day. Notice what stands out even slightly, such as joy, pain, turmoil, increase of love, anger, harmony, anxiety, freedom, isolation, a sense of the presence or absence of God.
Where do you sense you were being drawn by God’s Spirit?
Is there any one area you are being nudged to focus your attention on, to pray more seriously over, to take action on? Focus your energy on this and tell all of the other distractions that you will address their needs later. Discuss this area with God.
Express what needs to be expressed: praise … sorrow … gratitude … desire for change …
As you end your time in prayer, thank God for what you have received. May this time of isolation be an opportunity for you to grow closer to God.
Blessings to you all! - Rev. Melissa Spence