Posts Tagged ‘journaling’

Advent Day 15: Reviewing the Day

Advent Day 15

They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze … (Genesis 3:8)

As a joke, the senior pastor at the church where our campus ministry is located made a Festivus pole.  Last week he made a joke about the “airing of the grievances” that is supposedly part of the celebration of Festivus, and another staff member said, “Oh, the airing of grievances?  I thought that was called our annual review!”  I laughed so hard I almost couldn’t breathe.

Well, you can air your grievances to God.  Seriously, there is a long tradition within Christian spiritual practice of reviewing the day.  It’s called examen.  This old word refers to a practice of reviewing what happened during the day, when we felt God’s presence and guidance, when we felt alone and lost, and a little reflection on what that means.

Sounds simple enough, but done well, examen can cut to the core.  (So be careful!)    Examen could reveal that you are a person who loves to air grievances and then take them back into your heart, as if they were precious treasures.  Examen could reveal that you don’t pay attention.  Examen could reveal that your view of the world is overly dark, or overly sweet and naive.  Finally, examen could reveal some beautiful gifts you have inside that you aren’t using.

The question is, if you try examen for a while and discover some things about yourself, what will you do about those things?  You might even try keeping a journal of your daily examen time and look back every once in a while, to see how you have grown and where you still need to stretch. 

Today’s daily Scripture reading from the PC(USA):

Advent Day 10: Alert

Advent Day 10

Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly, like a trap… Be alert at all times … (from Luke 21)

O taste and see that the Lord is good … (Psalm 34:8)

What does it mean to be alert? 

If you watch a TV show around 9 or 10 pm, after many children have gone to bed, you’ll see ads for energy drinks that promise alertness.  To be alert, according to these ads, is to be pumped full of vitamins and caffeine.  The point of being alert, according to the ads, is to be a functioning parent and employee despite the fact that you’ve had no sleep.

Is that it?  Does God call us to be hyperfunctioning, hypervigilant, constantly in need of another shot?

Today’s spiritual practice is alertness or awareness, but no chemicals are required.  Instead, this type of awareness is more like paying attention, or living in the moment.

Take a walk today, preferably in a place with some grass or trees and away from car exhaust.  As you walk, make note of what you experience with your five senses.  In some places, you may even be able to taste the fresh air!

Later, in your journal, write about how you experienced Creation.  How did it feel to walk on ground instead of concrete?  Was it quiet, or did you hear some birds singing to each other about good sources of winter food?  Reflect on all five senses, and if possible, reflect on how you have experienced God’s care in the past.  Maybe you have a specific memory connected to something you heard or saw.

I think this type of alertness is very different from the over-caffeinated version.  When we’re high on artificial energy, we’re actually “drunk,” in a sense, and we are paying even more attention to our worries (that’s why we drank the drink — to get more things checked off the to-do list.)

Spiritual awareness, or awareness of what God is doing, only requires paying attention.  Simply by noticing, we can better understand how God is trying to reach us.  Simply by noticing, we can notice Christ in the face of someone right in front of us, and better understand our mission and calling.

Today’s Scripture reading from the PC(USA):

See the Prayer and Temperament book (info on the Resources page) for more about praying with the five senses.

Advent Day 6: Hands & Feet Prayer

“Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours.Yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion for the world is to look out; yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good; and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now.” — St. Teresa of Avila


Today I want to highlight the spiritual discipline of service.

A few years ago during a discussion on spiritual discipline, one student expressed frustration with the whole idea.  “I can’t sit still!” he cried.  “But I’m supposed to sit still and pray.  Help!”

There are a lot of people like that student in the world:  people who are incredibly active, hands-on, live-in-the-moment types.  Frankly, I don’t know what we would do without these folks in the church.  They preach passionate sermons and get the rest of us moving.  Yet sometimes these folks feel bad about themselves, because they can’t sit still through a long flowery prayer.

If this description fits you, go out this Advent season and serve!   The challenge for you will be putting together a plan.  So call up a charitable agency in your area, find out what kind of help they need, make the appointment, and show up.  While you’re there, live in the moment!  Meet people, pay attention to what you see and hear, et cetera. 

Then, after it’s all over, write about it your journal.    Try this outline:

  • What you did
  • What you experienced with your five senses
  • Your thoughts & emotions
  • Write a prayer for the people you served

Today’s daily Scripture reading from the PC(USA):