As I was preparing last week’s post, I felt nervous. I loved the concept of becoming more aware of God’s felt presence in my body, but I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to maintain the practice. What if this becomes just another New Year’s resolution that I’ve forgotten about but you, my reader, haven’t? I’d feel accountable to keep it up. I don’t want to be driven by a fear of looking bad or letting you down. A part of me wished I’d written about something else, but there wasn’t anything else I wanted to write about.
Friday morning, I packed my laptop and the clothes and food I’d need for a three-day retreat on Bowen Island. I kissed Fred goodbye and headed to the Skytrain. A few hours later, I was drinking coffee and looking out the window at ocean, trees and the Vancouver shoreline.
In the quiet, the discomfort about my blog post returned. As I read it over, I was aware once again of how “out there” my post might be to some readers. Was I inferring something from The Cloud of Unknowing that wasn’t there? Would the author agree that God is in our bodies?
And then there it was at the end of the quote: “…God, whose being fills and transcends the entire creation.”
There it was: the belief that God fills everything God creates including you and me.
As I revised my post, I felt like God was right beside me, and smiling and saying, “I wouldn’t leave you alone to pitch a big idea like this by yourself.”
When the post was published, I felt less afraid I’d written something I’d later regret. But what if I did? Would that be so bad for you to see me change my mind or fail to follow through on my intentions? Would it be so bad for you to see that I’m human?
I’ve been writing weekly blog posts for eight and a half years. My vision is clear: to write honestly and vulnerably about what I’m experiencing right now in my life with God. In a way, it’s a weekly Examen. What was a consolation or a desolation? Where did I find God? Where do I need to return to and meet God there? What do I notice coming back to my mind and heart?
Sometimes a story or poem flows out easily. Other times, I struggle to articulate what’s newly forming. Then there are times that I know what I need to write, but it might not put me or someone else in a good light. Somehow, as I open to God and what I’m noticing, the words I come. I’m accepted and embraced in that moment and the next. This is the journey of the everyday pilgrim.
God gives only the present, moment by moment.
–The Cloud of Unknowing
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Many people find it difficult to practice the daily Examen regularly. We can get discouraged when we look back, and life provides proof that we didn’t measure up or we failed again. The Examen isn’t meant to guilt or shame us into changing our behaviour. Instead, Ignatius wanted us to receive God’s love in all of life–in what went well and what didn’t. He wanted us to experience God with us–savouring joyful moments with us and offering us compassion when life was hard. I like to pray the Examen with Fr. James Martin, SJ. You can find his guided meditations on Spotify, Apple, or wherever you listen to podcasts.