This week Mark Thibodeaux proposes an Examen based on “A Particular Relationship.”
Rather than reflecting on this past day, today’s Examen leads you to ponder the long-term dynamics of one particular relationship in your life.
1. I begin in my usual way.
2. I spend a few moments in gratitude, thanking God for one or two of the blessings, big and small, that I’ve received today: the good mood I woke up in, a kind word from a friend, my undeserved good health, an easy commute to work, another day with my wonderful spouse.
3. Looking over the recent past, I ask God to show’ me the person who has been on my mind and in my heart a lot. Odds are, one particular person will rise to the surface of my consciousness pretty quickly. I get a good picture of this person in my mind’s eye. I hear the voice, recognize
the gestures, and so on.
4. I speculate with God why this person has been so prominent in my attention lately. It might be obvious—for example, we are in the midst of an argument—or it might not be so obvious. I speak with God about this relationship.
5. I ask God to reveal my strongest emotion as I reflect on my relationship with this person. Great love? Ambivalence? Gratitude? Anger? Attachment? Hurt? Worry? Confusion? I speak with God about how I feel atthis very moment. I allow myself to be immersed in this
emotion for a moment, and I present this to God. I remain receptive to whatever God might say or do.
6. I ask God to give me a sweeping overview of my relationship with this person. This is not a thorough blow-by-blow analysis. It is a quiet, contemplative “backing up” so that I can see the forest of this relationship rather thangetting lost in the trees of it. On the whole, what has this
relationship meant to me? Regardless of what is happening now, has this relationship been life-giving or draining? Has it led me closer to God and his way or further from it? Am I more or less faithful, hopeful, and loving because of this relationship? What has been the most difficult part of being in this relationship? What has been the most enjoyable or life-giving part? Finally, is the strong emotion that I’m feeling regarding the present moment (the trees) in sync with the strong emotions Ifeel as I reflect on the relationship as a whole (the forest)? I speak with God about all of this, listening as much as speaking, should God choose to say something.
7. Still reflecting on the forest, I ask God to show me my own emotions and desires regarding the future of this relationship. ‘What are my great concerns or fears aboutthis relationship? ‘What are my great desires7 for this relationship? ‘What are my hopes and dreams? I speak with
God about this. If I desire something in particular, I explicitly ask God for this. For example, “Lord, help us to overcome ___ and to focus on ___.”
8. Now, I go back to the trees of the present moment. Given my reflection on the forest, has my perspective shifted or have my emotions changed regarding the issues of the day? What specifically am I called to do tomorrow for or with this person? I speak with God about this. If called to
do so, I make a particular commitment to think, speak, or act in a certain way. I ask God for help to keep this commitment.
9. I end in my usual way.