Tom’s question for today:
What makes doing the Examen different than garden-variety egocentric ‘navel gazing’?
Thank you for giving me the word “egocentric” to help me out. The main difference between “egocentric navel gazing” and the Examen [or, as it is now frequently called, the Examination of Consciousness], is that the Examen is about taking care of, and enhancing, our friendships with God. It is less about “me, me, me” and more about God’s presence in my life and how I am responding to God’s invitations to love.
I confess that I have struggled over the years (decades!) with the Examen because, unless I am very careful, I slip into self-recrimination and blame at every opportunity. [We can do a whole separate blog-alogue on Irish guilt at a later date…] When I indulge myself that way, the Examen is much more of a hindrance than a help.
I benefit most from the Examen when I use it as a “virtual YouTube” of my day. I allow everything to spool out before me and I watch myself gettingly grumpily out of bed and beginning my daily routine. I take time to review my conversations to see if I tried to be loving and attentive, but I also learn from less obvious things like the few moments I spent in the supermarket looking at the flowers and silently giving thanks for the beauty of God’s creation or stopping for a moment to talk to Roy who spends most of his days sitting on a stoop in our neighborhood.
When I’m in the groove with the Examen, I live more fully aware that every moment of my day is a graced gift from God. I’m getting goose pimples just thinking about it.