Arise and shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. Isaiah 60
Jesus our joy, when we realise that you love us,
something in us is soothed and even transformed.
We ask you: “What do you want from me?”
And by the Holy Spirit you reply:
“Let nothing trouble you, I am praying in you,
dare to give your life.” ~ Taize
Time does what time does — tick along. Time’s job is the continued collection and addition of seconds, minutes, hours, days and years.
Yet, time is not without grace. For once a year it gives us permission to rule a line across the page of our life and start a new one. It gives us the freedom to divide our life up into ‘old’ and ‘new’ and ‘past’ and ‘future’. It further reminds us that each step we take away from the womb is a step closer to the tomb. And this reminder of death drawing closer makes our living more precious. A strange grace indeed.
As time offers us the strange grace of reflection and renewal of our patterns of living I am reminded of the forthright words of Socrates: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” With this in mind we would all do well to take time on a daily basis rather than on an annual basis, to examine our lives.
St. Ignatius certainly agreed with Socrates as he recommended a daily practise of examination through prayer. He invites us to take a moment each evening before we sleep to quietly review our day. “To look upon yourself without condemnation and without complacency and thus be open to growth.”
Here is one example of an Examen prayer:
Recalling the events of your day, explore the context of your actions. Review the day, hour by hour, searching for the internal events of your life. Look through the hours to see your interaction with what was before you. Ask what you were involved in and who you were with, and review your hopes and hesitations. Many situations will show that your heart was divided — wavering between helping and disregarding, scoffing and encouraging, listening and ignoring, rebuking and forgiving, speaking and silence, neglecting and thanking. See the opportunities for growth in faith, hope and love, and how you responded. What moved you to act the way you did?
Finally take a few minutes to ask yourself: What / who gave you life today? What / who took life from you today? Where were you free to be free today?
Strange Grace towards examined living, Alan
A few [wise] words to contemplate:
Something we were withholding made us weak. Until we found out that it was ourselves we were withholding from our land of living, and forthwith found salvation in surrender. ~ Robert Frost
The coward dies a thousand deaths, the brave but one. ~ Shakespeare
Being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God’s will. ~ Bonhoeffer
A relationship that needs to be kept a secret is a relationship you don’t need. ~ Mogoeng Mogoeng
If the things we face are greater and more important that the things we refuse to face, then at least we have begun the re-evaluation of our world. At least we have begun to learn to see and live again. But if we refuse to face any of our awkward and deepest truths, then sooner or later, we are going to have to become deaf and blind. And then, eventually, we are going to have to silence our dreams, and the dreams of others. In other words, we die. We die to life. ~ Ben Okri
O begin! Fix some part of every day for private exercises… Whether you like it or not, read and pray daily. It is for your life; there is no other way; else you will be a trifler all your days … Do justice to your own soul; give it time and means to grow. Do not starve yourself any longer. ~ John Wesley