Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Ash Wednesday

I've never felt an urge to do something for the period of Lent. I have always seen friends giving up Starbucks or Facebook. I have family members who are very serious in their Catholic tradition who take their Lenten practice truly to heart with sacrifice and service.

But I've never felt much need to sacrifice or serve more than I already do.

This year, I've felt a tug to find something to commit to for Lent. Knowing that the intent of this season is to draw closer to God in preparation for Easter, I knew I wanted my choice to be spiritually based.

I didn't have a plan when I woke up this morning, though. Sacrificing sugar or coffee or chocolate didn't really seem like the right idea. So I opened up my email and decided that I would read one of the many daily devotionals that I receive - and maybe I would feel so moved as to actually read one of them each day.

And I read one. And it was nice enough. But it didn't move me.

Later in the day, I jumped on Twitter. There is a Jesuit priest I follow - Father James Martin. Now, I'm not Catholic. But I know a lot about Catholicism since my dad and my brother are Catholic. I've attended Mass many times. I won't pretend to know everything about the faith but I can say that there is a lot of beauty in the prayers and traditions. Father Martin tweeted about a new podcast he is doing for Lent - The Examen.

I was intrigued. Maybe this was what I needed. And I will admit - I had no clue what it was going to be about or what "examen" meant. Turns out, it is a daily meditation style of prayer to review your day from start to finish and remember or recognize where you experienced God in your day.

I took time and started the podcast. I was expecting a talk. To just listen. But it was an actual time of prayer and meditation. I started to write things down as I reflected on the previous day. And I was aware of how much I just cast aside a day once it is done. But when I stopped to examine it, there was beauty and love in so many places.

When it was done, I began quickly reading about St. Igantius Loyola and this daily practice. There are cards you can carry that have the steps laid out for your daily prayer and meditation time. Lots of interesting things to read about this time reviewing your day, looking for God, and then spending time talking to God about a specific happening or person you encountered - and time to listen. Time to acknowledge where you messed up, where you sinned.

It's a beautiful practice. I am moved.

A couple of things I wrote down from articles I read -

"If it is part of our human experience, God is in it."

"God is present in every event of our daily lives - not only in thoughts and words, but in smells and sounds and sights and feelings."

There are many different ways to do The Examen and I look forward to this Lenten journey and going deeper in my faith through this practice.

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