As part of our Autumn Art Retreat, I led the group in an evening Examen. An Examen is a simple meditative practice Saint Ignatian introduced to help people see God in their everyday activities.
I chose the changing of the seasons as a theme. For many, this could be the more literal change from Summer to Fall. The seasonal change comes with welcome and sometimes unwelcome changes in routine: from summer vacations to school, from work schedules to planning for the holidays, from one wardrobe to the next.
But for me, as I enter my ‘golden years’, the changing of the seasons could be the more significant change from one season of life to the next. I find myself more and more asking, “What’s next?” Or in my darker moments, “Is this all there is?”
I invited the people on retreat to pick one of these two ‘seasons’. The group ranged in age from 17 to 70 years old. I suspect many chose to do an Examen of their particular season of life.
The Examen has many variations. Below are the steps I followed. You may want to try it. Pick a season – on the calendar or in your life – and follow these steps to see how God has been and will continue to be active in your life:
An Examen to Enter a New Season
- Place yourself in God’s presence. Find a special place to do this, maybe with a focal point like a candle. Pray for the grace to hear God’s voice speaking to you.
- Review the past season with gratitude. Give thanks to God for the gifts you received and the blessings God bestowed upon you.
- Notice your feelings and emotions. Review the season again and spend some time with both the good feelings and the bad. Ask God to help you understand why an event happened. Choose one or two from which to pray.
- Ask God to forgive any sins or heal any wounds that surfaced. Trust in God’s mercy.
- Look to the upcoming season. Reflect upon how you can better collaborate with the loving plan God has for you in the season ahead.
May the Lord be with you as you enter this new season.