The Examen

Beachcombing is a wonderful way to pray. You might like to try it. You don’t need a beach or an ocean to do it. Just a little time, a little patience, open eyes, and an open heart.

“Beachcombing” is another way of describing the ancient form of prayer variously known as the “Review of the Day” or the Examen. The “beach” is simply the experience of your day, just as it was, with all its ups and downs, its beautiful shells and its sting jellyfish. Ti make this kind of prayer, just wander along that “beach” and see what you find. Your morning (or evening or anytime) prayer-stroll might look a bit like this:
• What has happened today to delight you, to give you a glimpse of joy, to make you feel more alive, more connected to God, to yourself or to others?
• Who or what has nourished you in some way today, or helped to heal a hurt?
• Has the surf of your own life, the things you have said and done today, brought nourishment, healing, or a loving touch to someone else’s beach?
• Has anything happened today, or been said or done, that has triggered feelings of anger or sorrow or resentment in you? What do you think was at the root of those feelings?
• As you look back over your beach today, notice the trail of your footprints. Is there anything you regret in the path you have walked today, or anything you would want to handle differently tomorrow? If so simply let it rest there between you and God, without judging yourself or anyone else.
As you bring your prayer to a close, gather up the treasure of your beachcombing, store them away in your heart, and then let the incoming tide was everything else away. Tomorrow you will walk once more on virgin sand.

Silf, Margaret, Landscapes of Prayer, Finding god in your world and your life, Augsburg Books, Minneapolis.