Monday, May 21, 2007

consolation and desolation

i am finding great depth in these two words this past week. i have tried to "do the examen" for years - "do" as "oh this sounds like a great idea" or "anj gets so much out of it, i want that much out of it too"... blah, blah, blah. i don't know if the timing wasn't right, of it was because i didn't have these words.

i have said that as a family we have done "highs and lows" at supper for years now. it is a great way to get your kids talking about their day, but it lacks the spiritual impact of the true examen. and anj does "best and worst" - and so i tried that too - but neither of those word sets really helped me to fully understand the examen like these words do. consolation and desolation are so graphic, such emotionally loaded, picture words that i immediately can feel them and identify the times in my day when i am brought to those places.

desolation speaks of a desert to me, dry, barren, lifeless. consolation is the warm, strong, safe embrace or a cuddle on the lap.

what i am realizing is that i spend so much of my life trying to console myself. trying to fill those desolate places i find i comfort myself with "consolation prizes" - instead of real, true, consoling consolation. this tool is giving me so much to think about and consider.


judi said...

bobbie, have i asked this before? or maybe i just thought about asking it... who knows...old age...anyway...what is an examen and were does it come from?

Rebecca said...

Judi... examen, as my housemates and I practice it, is a time of reflecting on one's happenings in the last day, and pondering about what the "leastest" and "mostest" moments have been. There are no right or wrong ways of expressing this... It is excellent for creating openness about one's journey... and for recognising patterns that one may not be so conscious of... and then actively working towards betterment... and praying with and for each other...

We practice a variation of "examen". We use fairly broad, sweeping terms of our "leastest" and "mostest" for the day...
saddest - happiest
most confusing - most clarifying
"on the wrong path" - "journeying towards wholeness"
most frustrating - least frustrating
least friendship-building moment - most companion-edifying time
least sure of God - most aware of God
most afraid - most secure
most outraged - most amused...

the list is obviously expandable... find a word that describes a feeling, and then think about the antonym... actually, they don't even have to be antonyms... it is perfectly ok to have "most challenging" with "most hilarious"!
As a side note, we frequently find that certain happenings are *both* of our "mostest and leastest" for the day, which is mysterious and intriguing... for example, a while back I discovered some old photos of my lil' brother when he was a sweet-natured, happy-go-lucky kid... which is evidently a mostest... but this was juxtaposed with my knowledge of how utterly sad and hopeless he has been feeling in recent times... and thus my obvious leastest.
do share with us what you explore about examen if you do so...

judi said...

becca, thank you very much for taking the time to explain what examen is. it sounds like a great way to think about the day, to see where God met me, to spark interesting conversations with my husband and with others.
i'm going to copy what you and bobbie wrote so i have it in front of me and so i don't forget it.

i will be glad to share anything that hits me, thanks for asking!