Have you ever gone a long while without touching base with a close friend? Well, often breaks from our normal routine can lead us to be out of touch with ourselves, with God, and with our closest relationships. This doesn’t mean that significant things were not happening! It just means that we might be invited to take some moments of pause to take note of all that has occurred.
This meeting is designed for a group to pray, reflect, and re-connect after recent time spent apart, like a summer or Christmas holiday break. The meeting focuses on an Awareness Examen exercise. Note that this tool will be developed further in subsequent meetings. The intention behind this meeting is that the group might create space for themselves to deepen their awareness of how God has been present in their lives in recent weeks or months as well as identify where God might be presently moving in them or inviting them to grow. It may be fruitful to repeat this meeting (or some variation) at the beginning of each new “focus” (at transitional moments, between topics, after a time apart, etc.). With lives filled with busy schedules that often move at a rapid pace, it can be difficult to quiet ourselves enough to listen. As a means of growing as a small community, this practice may be very helpful for the group to grow both individually and communally in listening to the Spirit.
- “A Review of Life: A Free-Writing Awareness Examen” handout
- Hard surfaces for members to write on during the Examen
- Music player & soft instrumental music
Ask for the grace recognize how God has been present to us since we were last gathered as a community.
Highs and Lows: Invite members to share a high and a low point of their recent time. This exercise is meant to ease the group into reconnecting and reflecting on their experience but is not meant to take the whole meeting time.
Invite members to spend time praying with: “A Review of Life: Free-Writing Awareness Examen.” Note that the goal or aim of this time in prayer and reflection is not to compose beautiful pieces of writing (though the results may be quite beautiful in that they reveal God’s movements). Rather, encourage the group to allow their writing to be whatever it will be in the moment as they let their pens flow freely without judgment or restraint. As a group, pray for the grace to see with God’s eyes and to feel with God’s heart to become more attentive to how God has been present in the past few weeks or months.
After some time in prayer and reflection, use the Examen questions given as a guide for group sharing.
- What remains with you after the reflection?
- Were some statements easier to write on than others?
- Were you surprised or reminded by any of your reflections?
Spend a few moments in silence to review what has been shared in the meeting. Then have a brief time of sharing that may focus on questions such as the following:
- What has been happening or occurring within you as you have been present in this time together (in listening to God, yourself, and others…in sharing with God, yourself, and others)?
- Are there any individual or communal movements that may be helpful to articulate…movements or invitations towards growth, peace, clarity, love of others, greater trust in God, etc.?
- Invite members to spend time praying over what arose during the free-writing Examen and time during group sharing. Perhaps they could become more attentive to their hopes for the semester or year, as well as ask God what God hopes for them in the coming months.
Schedule a social time with your group members in the next week to continue catching up- a shared meal, coffee, an event on campus or a free event in the city.
Offer prayers and hopes for the coming months as they have been reflected in the meeting.
“We recognize particularly the necessity of prayer and discernment, personal and communal, of the daily examination of consciousness and of spiritual guidance as important means for seeking and finding God in all things.” (CLC-USA General Principles #5)
“I beg for the gift of an intimate knowledge of all the goods which God lovingly shares with me. Filled with gratitude, I want to be empowered to respond just as totally in my love and service.” (Spiritual Exercises ).
“Listen carefully to me… Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near.” Isaiah 55:1-13
“Therefore I prayed, and understanding was given me; I called on God, and the spirit of widsom came to me.” Wisdom 7:7
“I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind…so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:4-9