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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Pausing to Reflect

A fairly well-known spiritual discipline is called the Examen. The Examen is a time to pause and reflect on the events of a specific period of time - what did we do right or wrong? where did God show up? what is God saying to us? Some call it the Daily Examen and recommend taking time each day, either at night to reflect on the day ending or in the morning to review the previous day.

Liking to think outside of the box a little, I decided to experiment with a Weekly Examen. I had picked up a unique journal that I liked, but for which I had no specific purpose when I purchased it. With the left hand page blank and the right hand page lined, it was unique in my collection of journals. I bought it, set it aside, and then as I was learning more about the rhythm of the Examen, I knew exactly how I wanted to use it.

Each Saturday (well, theoretically . . . confession time . . . I am not always as consistent as I'd like to be and sometimes I have to play catch up with this), I review the previous week. I read through my journal entries and remember the events of the week. I look for a theme or lessons that God is bringing into focus. When I have determined a theme for the previous week, I draw a picture or write decorative words on the left hand page to depict that theme. Then, I write my reflections about the week on the right hand page.

I have found this to be a fun and enlightening exercise that helps me to stay aware of what God is teaching me, where I am struggling, and what I am dreaming about. Below are three examples of pages from 2013.

My theme for 2013 was "Emerging" and this page depicted a particular phase in that process. I realized that I was responsible to speak truth, to be proactive about approaching issues, from that emerged a sense of empowerment, confidence and freedom.

At another point in the year, I was pondering the different ways that we minister to others. As I thought about the ways we help others, I realized that Jesus used a wide variety of tools. The key was that He had discernment and knew exactly which tool to use at just the right time.

At the end of the year, I combined my Weekly Examen with a Yearly Examen and symbolized the idea of Emerging throughout 2013 including the specific things that had shifted.

As a person who enjoys both writing and visualizing concepts, I have found this to be a fun way to review the weeks of my life. Nonetheless, how you do the Examen is not as important as doing the Examen. Some people have a specific list of questions they review. Some write about it in their journal. Some talk it out with another person. There are a variety of ways to do the Examen and a variety of intervals at which to do it. I encourage you to experiment a little, give it a try.

Be on the lookout for what God is doing in your life.

How do you keep a check on what God is saying to you?
on how you're living your life?

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