Spiritual Formation: Attentiveness (part 2) — Carolyn Carney

Does your life feel like an avalanche sometimes?  Things coming at you so fast that you can’t decipher what just happened or flew past? Someone asks you what’s going on and all you know how to answer is, “Busy,” because you cannot recall single events in the whirl of activity.  By the end of the day you throw yourself in bed, just grateful to stop the movement.

fast paced

An Examen may help you.

Now, don’t break out into a cold sweat!  I didn’t say exam!  Whereas an exam tests your knowledge of a certain subject, practicing an Examen will help you recognize how the invisible God intersects your life.  This kind of attentiveness prevents an avalanche of activity and conversation from derailing your ability to encounter Jesus who is always present with us.  The flurry of activity will not disappear, but with the Examen you’ll be able to spot God’s activity through the flurry. This practice will lead you to a greater self-knowledge and spiritual growth.

An Examen can be done in 5-10 minutes.  I find it best to do at the end of my day.  There are plenty of Examens you can find on the internet.  “Rummaging for God” by Dennis Hamm is a great read.  Here is a simple synopsis of the practice extrapolated from Hamm’s article:

  1. Pray for light.  We need the Holy Spirit to enlighten us, to bring to the surface the “meat” of the day.  We are not just reminiscing about our day, we are mining for treasure.  Miners need light to see.  So do we. Find a quiet space and pray for light.
  2. Recall the events, activities and conversations of the day.  Don’t pass judgment on yourself.  (There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Rom 8:1). Just look at your day—the good, the bad and the ugly– as if you were watching a film.
  3. As you recall your day, pay attention to the feelings that surfaced for you.  Some of us have an easier time than others identifying feelings.  But feelings are a clear indicator that something has gone deeply into us.  It is an invitation from God to pause and pay attention.  Also, in what ways did you experience God showing up?
  4. Is there one feeling that stands out from the rest?  Pray from that feeling.  What was the source of that feeling?  What was going on in you that prompted that inner reaction?  Bring that feeling to God and invite him to speak to you about it.  Listen.
  5. Look to tomorrow.  What will you be engaging in?  What are you looking forward to?  What are you anxious about?  Tell the Lord.  Invite him to be with you, to make himself known to you in your day.

If you find it simpler, here is a file of me reading an examen.   

Share in the comments your experience practicing the examen.  How are you noticing God in your day?  How are you growing?

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