Meet Chester Filbert. He lives at 5264 One Hundred and Seventy-Seventh Street. He is frowning because, as the title of the book explains, nothing ever happens on his block. The reader soon discovers, however, that the joke is on him, because a lot happens on Chester’s street. While he sits there moping, firemen put out a fire, police catch a thief, a gardener finds a treasure and so on.
Just like Chester, we often feel like nothing ever happens in our lives that draws us close to God. Other people have amazing experiences of God, but–sigh–not us.
Meanwhile, the joke is on us. That uncontainable love of God is spilling out all over the place, yet we hardly notice it. To help us become aware of God’s attentive love, we can use Ignatius of Loyola’s Prayer of Examen. Five centuries later, many still find this simple prayer practice invaluable. We can do it while commuting, going for a walk or before falling asleep at night.
Here’s how it’s done. Take five minutes and ask the Holy Spirit to bring to mind a moment in the past day or week for which you were most grateful. Perhaps you forgot where you parked your car and found it anyway or maybe you were touched by what someone did or said to you. Whatever it was, take time to enjoy that moment again with Jesus.
In the post, God’s Exuberant, Uncontainable Love, I mentioned a time when I was in church and God welcomed me home with a hug from my granddaughter. When it happened, I couldn’t take it in; there was too much going on. But the next day, I returned to that moment with Jesus and, like Mary did at Jesus’s birth, treasured what happened in my heart.
As we practice the Daily Examen, we soon discover that Jesus has indeed “moved into the neighbourhood.” He’s on Chester’s block, yours and mine. How exciting is that?
The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighbourhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish.
– John 1:14 (The Message)