An Epiphany…

Just before Christmas I was invited to an Epiphany event at church.  I wasn’t really thinking when I accepted the invitation, I just heard the word, ‘Epiphany’ and presumed I’d be there.

When I checked my calendar I saw the feast fell on a Saturday and realized I had been invited to an extra event at church not a regular Sunday one.  I started to think twice about my response.

Just because I don’t work regularly and any day of the week can be a Saturday I still set apart my week-end days from my week-days and Hubs and I enjoy our lazy Saturdays reading, drinking coffee, digging through junk shops and cooking.

However I am a great believer in the power of a personal invitation and I mulled over the idea for a few weeks before eventually signing up.

I dug out my retreat journal, made sure I had my lunch money and a pen and took myself off to The Daughters of King retreat on Saturday, January 6th, entitled, The Wise Still Seek Him.  

Our first presentation was on Ignatius Loyola’s Examen.  I glanced at the handout and noticed a reference to Anne LaMott’s book on prayer, ‘Help, Thanks, Wow!’

I looked down at my previous retreat notes from 2011 and there was Anne again, ‘Help, Thanks, Wow!’ written in my hand and underlined.

Retreat

A Spiritual connection.

A Spiritual connection!

The Examen (not an examination of conscience; a fearsome exercise I had to do as a child before going to weekly confession) is a short run through of the last 12 or 24 hours, giving thanks for blessings and gifts, asking God to be present, repenting of any mistakes or failures and resolving to live the next 12 or 24 hours trying not to succumb to the failings of the previous day.

It is a form of prayer that Ignatius thought important enough to tell his monks,

“Never skip this exercise.”

The monks did it twice a day…but for an ordinary person like me, once a day suffices.

However, it only takes about 10 minutes to run backwards through a day so it can easily be done when walking, or lying awake in bed during the middle of the night, or during Shavasana at the end of a yoga class.

I already had an inkling of what Ignatius was getting at since I’ve written a nightly diary since I was about eight and journaled in the mornings for decades.

Hubs and I are great post-mortemists and probably over analyze actions and words.  However we don’t go over the mundane or routine parts of our lives and Ignatius directed his monks to walk contemplatively through the day at 30 minute intervals and ask,

“How did I feel?”

What worried me a little this fine Epiphany morning was the word ‘Examen’ which conjured up painful digging in the hard to reach places of my subconscious.

My anxiety increased when I was told to go off to a quiet place to go over, hour by hour, my previous day.

What would come up? I wondered, fretting that the dregs of my life would rise to the surface and confront me.

What if my dark side took over and I found myself irritated and angry, dis-satisfied or saddened and ruined what had promised to be a rewarding day?

I pushed those thoughts aside and decided to give Ignatius a chance.

No-one would know if I just prayed the Our Father for a few minutes instead of examen-ing…

I had been given two typed up examples of how to proceed and a link to an App.  I am a bit of a sceptic when it comes to following  instructions on how to pray but I took myself off to the knave, which was thankfully dark and shadowy, providing a sanctuary in which to hide.

Retreat2

a form of contemplative prayer

As expected my formative years, my parents and difficult moments with my children began shouting for attention.  I started to tremble,

This is supposed to be a way to bring me closer to God, to see my life from His perspective, to feel His presence in the trivia of my every-day.  I gently chided myself.

And it’s only about yesterday…not my whole life!

The clamour died down and I sank into the calm of the last 24 hours.

I invited God to join me and made notes as I went from the end to the beginning of the day before.

My printed sheet guided me to identify how each part of the day made me feel?

Had I been bored or uplifted?  Frustrated or patient?  Angry or joyfully transported?

My heart breathed a deep sigh, my previous day had been marked by serenity.

Simple things like holding a drowsing cat on my lap, feeling his purring vibrate through me settling me;

Dabbing balm on my lips feeling the softness of the oil soothing the dryness;

The wholesome taste of good food in my mouth prepared by Hubs for me;

The pleasure of listening to any song or artist on my iPad without understanding the whys and wherefores of the brilliant technology that allowed me to do so.

Feeling Hubs’ strong arms around me, my defender, shelterer, lover always;

Frank conversations with my children bringing them into my present moment being a part of theirs.

At the end of the Examen I opened my eyes to read the final note,

“Trust that God is bringing these thoughts and feelings to the surface.  Trust that the people you are thinking about have been put into your mind by God. Trust that God is present in your everyday.”

Trust…believe without proof…that God is at the root of my subconscious.

I felt relaxed and whole, I was no longer on edge.

The rest of the retreat passed under the mantle of Ignatius’ Examen.

At the closing mass this blessing summed my experience up beautifully:

May you recognize in your life the presence, power and light of your soul.                                                          May you realize that you are never alone,                                                                                                                        that your soul in its brightness and belonging connects you
intimately with the rhythm of the universe.
May you have respect for your own individuality and difference.
May you realize that the shape of your soul is unique,
that you have a special destiny here,
that behind the facade of your life there is something
beautiful, good, and eternal happening.
May you learn to see yourself with the same delight, pride,
and expectation with which God sees you in every moment.

An Epiphany.

At home I looked up the first line of this blessing and found it to be a poem written by the late Irish poet and priest, John O’Donohue.

I found references to him too in my retreat notebook.

Another spiritual connection.

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1 Comments

ElRay

2018-02-16 22:39:04 Reply

Nice Post! Lovely way to put it! L

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