My first spiritual director once told me that before she opens her eyes each morning she lays her plans for the day out before God.
“This is what I would like to do today,” she tells the Lord. “But if you have other plans…please, feel free.”
So this morning—when I awaken prematurely and cannot return to the embrace of sleep—I think of this dear woman. Lord, there are many things in need of doing, I hum in the dark.
The list seems neverending and I have trouble with that second part of the prayer—the surrender. I let my resistance lead me through the moments of the previous day. I hold each one up before the Light—scrutinize from every angle. Opening my mind as a student allows me to step away from ownership—to step away from pride—and I ask God what I can learn from each one—searching for the blessing. I thank God for the moments that sit sweet in my mind. And for the opportunity to learn from the not-so-sweet.
It’s called the examen prayer and it’s always been hard for me. Too many regrets are carried in my back pocket from day-to-day; too many spilled words. I had a teacher once who referred to the examen as praying with the sacred text of your own lived life. Do I dare to see the moments I’ve breathed through as a sacred text?
In their book Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives You Life Dennis, Sheila, and Matthew Linn tell the story of the orphans of WWII.
During the bombing raids of World War II, thousands of children were orphaned and left to starve. The fortunate ones were rescued and place in refugee camps where they received food and god care. But many of these children who had lost so much could not sleep at night. They feared waking up to find themselves once again homeless and without food. Nothing seemed to reassure them. Finally, someone hit upon the idea of giving each child a pice of bread to hold at bedtime. Holding their bread, these children could finally sleep in peace. All through the night the bread reminded them, “Today I ate and I will eat again tomorrow.”
The authors tell this story to illustrate how the examen prayer helps us focus on life-giving elements of the passing moments—even in the difficult ones.
As I sift moments in the dark I feel my heart begin to open. I hold on to the bread of grace and I feel my will—supple and light as a willow branch.
Please, I say. Feel free.
The next thing I know I am waking to the sound of the alarm.
Over at the High Calling we are starting a new book discussion today on The Life of the Body: Physical Well-being and Spiritual Formation by Valerie E. Hess and Lane M. Arnold. Will you join us? It's a great book about how the choices we make for our bodies impact our spiritual life.
How do you embrace the God-joy? Every Monday I’ll be sharing one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find Him. Be with Him. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us:
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