A Prayer to Remember God’s With-ness
by Emily P. Freeman
Unbound by time or place or gravity,
You move with me and I with You.
You go ahead of me into an unknown future.
You walk toward me with love in Your eyes.
You stand beside me when I find myself in unsure places.
You sit next to me in silence and joy.
You watch behind me to protect my mind from regret.
You live within me and lead from a quiet place.
When You speak with gentleness, may I not ignore You.
When You direct with nudges may I move with ease.
When You declare Your love for me may I refuse to squirm away.
When you offer good gifts, may I receive them with gratitude.
When You delay the answers, may I wait with hope.
I resist the urge to sprint ahead in a hurry
or lag behind in fear.
Let me keep company with you at a walking pace,
moving forward together one step at a time.
You are for me.
You are with me.
You are within me.
Looking back on our Scripture passage for this retreat. Take some time to read again John 20:1-16.
We are told that as Mary was crying, she stooped to look into the tomb. That word “stooped” is the Greek word “parakupto” and holds the idea of looking carefully, peering into or inspecting curiously to become more acquainted with something.
What might it look like if we, like Mary, allow our questions, our pain, our curiosity, our determination, our love to lead us to peer into, inspecting curiously our lives under the loving gaze of God?
The process of spiritual formation involves both increasing our God awareness as well as our self-awareness. This requires us to stoop in a sense, or peer into and inspect our own lives, even in moments of pain and loss. Maybe especially in moments of pain and loss. One of the practices that helps us to look more intently in order to see the traces of God’s actions in our daily lives is the prayer of examen.
The prayer of examen is a process of reviewing your day, week or any period of time in the presence of God. It offers a way to help us take notice of God’s presence in our lives in places we may have otherwise missed. This prayer has sometimes been called the prayer of awareness as we peer into and inspect how God speaks to us through our deepest feelings and yearnings by way of what St. Ignatius called consolation and desolation.
Sometimes when in desolation, we may find ourselves attempting to quickly relieve the tension rather than holding the uncertainty and confusion. Yet both of these interior movements are ways that God is speaking and leading.
Both consolation and desolation have to do with our overall orientation. Which direction is it taking us? Toward God [consolation] or away from Him [desolation]?
Interestingly, the Spanish and French root of the word “consolacion” is literally “con” meaning “with or towards” and “sola” meaning “sun or light”. “Desolacion” would then be “against or away from." Consolation then, is facing or turning toward the light, and desolation is facing or turning away from the light.
In this account of Mary at the tomb, God quite literally put before Mary death and life. We witness her peering into the darkness and death of the tomb, and then, moments later, we witness her turning toward the light and life of the resurrected Lord.
As our retreats in “A Spacious Place” come to a close, let’s take some time to look back over the last seven retreats with a prayer of examen.
Are there specific things that stood out to you? Patterns or themes that emerge?
Are there places where you notice connections or deeper meaning as you ponder God’s presence there?
Are there spiritual practices that you were particularly drawn to?
What decisions, commitments, habits or practices would you like to incorporate into or continue within the rhythm of your life?
What God may be doing in your life right now through this?
What might God be inviting you into?
As you reflect on what you wrote for the questions above, what longings has the Lord revealed to you?
How might you articulate your deepest desires in His presence?
What might be a prayer of longing or desire in your relationship with God around those things?
"Let this loving gaze reveal to you God’s desire to be with you, that your feelings matter, and that God not only wants to know about your day but wants to experience it with you. This is compassionate love. Knowing that we are deeply loved by God — even sought out in compassion — is one of the greatest soul-healing realizations we can have."
— Andy Otto
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