Today I want to share with you something I co-wrote with my wife, Fran.
For our RCIA program, we often begin or end our meeting with an Examen — a prayer practice inspired by the Daily Examen as promoted by St. Ignatius of Loyola. Think of it as a daily “life review,” an examination not only of conscience but even more so of consciousness — consciousness of God’s presence in our lives and of how we both accept that resist that presence.
Fran and I wrote an Examen based on the five senses back in January, but somehow it got lost deep in the catacombs of my hard drive. Fran has been asked to record an Examen for our parish, and she wanted to use that Examen; when we couldn’t retrieve it from my computer, we decided to write a new one. Here it is — hope you enjoy it.
An Examen of the Senses
by Carl and Fran McColman
Let’s begin by settling into a comfortable position and closing your eyes. Take three deep, slow breaths to calm your thoughts and center yourself in the present moment, acknowledging God’s presence here with us — with you — now.
God is love and we are called to find God in all things. God’s love permeates the world we live in. Let’s consider God’s presence in our lives by reflecting on how we have encountered the Divine Presence over the past 24 hours.
Reflect on how God has been present to you this day through the sense of Sight.
Where has God met you in a visual way? Perhaps in luminous rays of sunlight, bursting through a cloud, slanting through the trees, or sparkling on the surface of water. Perhaps in the colorful array of a sunrise or sunset; in the playful dance of squirrels frolicking in your yard; in the sparkling eyes of someone you love.
Notice how God meets you with blessings through Sight.
Reflect on how God has been present to you this day through the sense of Sound.
Where has God met you in an auditory way? Perhaps in the melodious laugh of a child, or the symphony of birdsong, or the soothing cadence of your spouse’s heartbeat; the familiar beat of a favorite song; the beckoning ringtone when someone special from afar calls, and their comforting voice when you respond.
Notice how God meets you with blessings through Sound.
Reflect on how God has been present to you this day through the sense of Smell.
Where has God met you in an olfactory way? Perhaps in the rich aroma of your morning cup of coffee or tea; the fragrance of a favorite perfume or cologne; the appetizing smell of fresh basil or a baking apple pie. Perhaps in the evocative scent of freshly mown grass or the redolence of a library filled with old books.
Notice how God meets you with blessings through Smell.
Reflect on how God has been present to you this day through the sense of Taste.
Where has God met you in a gustatory way? Perhaps in the delicious indulgence of a sweet juicy peach, the spicy heat of salsa, or the bitter shock of radishes on your salad. Perhaps the joy of warm buttered bread, cold velvety ice cream, or melt-in-your mouth brownies. Perhaps in the quenching coolness of water on a hot day.
Notice how God meets you with blessings through Taste.
Reflect on how God has been present to you this day through the sense of Touch.
Where has God met you in a tactile way? Perhaps in the intimacy of a hug from a friend, the affectionate rub of your beloved cat or dog, the cleansing spray of a shower on your skin. Perhaps in the snuggling safety of a warm blanket, the weight of tools or workout equipment, the stability of the earth beneath your feet.
Notice how God meets you with blessings through Touch.
As you reflect on your day, take time to offer thanksgiving for blessings in your day, however big or small they might be. Also consider if there were times when you resisted God’s love, and how you might wish to respond differently in the future.
In conclusion, pray for the day to come. Pray that you might pay attention to all the blessings in your life, and that you in turn might be a blessing for others.
Let’s finish our Examen with this adaptation of St. Ignatius’ Suscipe prayer.
God, I give you my freedom. Take my memory, my understanding, and my will. Anything I have or possess has been your gift to me, so now I give it back to you. I ask for your compassionate Will to direct my entire life. Give me your loving grace, and the grace of Love. With these gifts I am truly wealthy, and I ask for nothing more. Amen.