In the course of a year, there is one time we collectively pause: the moment we lean over the edge of a New Year.
St. Ignatius used the prayer of Examen twice a day, once at noon and again in the evening. Twice daily, I am struck by how little I engage in prayerful reflection.
Sometimes, when I pause, I fear being left behind. Social media propels me forward during every hour of the day on the screen of my laptop. Forward motion takes me through my daily to-do lists, projects, and activities.
If I am moving, I need not pause. Unsettling thoughts have no time to catch up with me.
God is bigger than my rushing.
The Examen prayer is a time to listen to God.
I slow down and listen to remember God’s presence is over everything.
He has been beside me each step of the past year. I have that hope to cling to with each new day.
Last year, I carefully crafted my resolution list and goals for the New Year. Honestly, when I reflect my list looks a little ragged. I faced interruptions, I met the cries of family members and friends, and stepping into the pressing needs of neighbors. Certain moments cause me to pause and wonder why. There have been broken dreams and disappointments.
All these resolutions, dreams, and goals take on a different form than when I first crafted them. When I reflect, I realize they don’t fit into the framing margins that I have made. I feel the stirrings of discontentment.
To review with gratitude…
This year I will lay my goals and dream out like lumps of clay. I will hold onto those lumps loosely. I will invite God to have a heavier hand on them. I will remember that he will mold and shape them into what he wants them to be and that the way he works may not be what I imagine or plan. I hold loosely because I trust that he knows best. I will wait to frame these moments until God has set out the form.
When the New Year closes, I will reflect back in Examen prayer with gratitude that God allowed me to be part of his work and his plans. I will frame those moments around the shapes he formed for me, not what I crafted for myself.
Join the Conversation
How can you approach the coming year with gratitude?
How can we learn to still our hearts in God’s presence in a daily Examen prayer?
What do you need to release to allow God to shape your dreams and goals this coming year?
Lisa Van Engen is a freelance writer from Holland, Michigan, who blogs daily at aboutproximity.com. She combines her background in social work and ministry with her love of writing to help people place themselves in the proximity of renewal. She is a member of the Global Team of 200 and the Exodus Road Blogging Team. Lisa is married to Kris, a congregational social justice mobilizer with World Renew. They and their kids Ellie and Josiah love to laugh, take adventure hikes, and go to Lake Michigan.