BY SUSAN HAARMAN | March 30, 2020
[Editor’s Note: The Ignatian Examen is a traditional method of prayer—a short, easy way to reflect on your day to become more aware of moments of grace and opportunities for growth. In times of uncertainty and rapid change, such as this time of isolation brought about through COVID-19 quarantine and shelter-in-place directives, taking time to reflect becomes essential. This Examen is adapted to serve as a guide for your prayer and reflection in light of these new and ever-shifting realities.]
Take a moment to settle. Take a deep breath. Get comfortable. Like a rock settling on the bottom of a lake after it’s thrown in, let yourself settle.
- Acknowledge how you are feeling in this moment. Are you restless and anxious? Don’t feel like you need to silence that to pray. Acknowledge it. Are you feeling down or lethargic? It’s ok if even doing this short prayer takes a lot of energy. God wants to be present in all parts of our lives—not just the easy or serene moments.
- Ask for light and insight as you prepare to review your day. For some, that light may come in the form of a sense of the Divine. For others, it’s from a deep sense of your true self. Ask for the ability to pay attention to things you may have glanced over.
- Take a moment to think about the experience of quarantine or shelter in place. Especially think about where you are physically. Even as your mobility is limited and your home becomes a place you have to be, ask yourself what is one thing that you are grateful for about this place and this time? Perhaps it’s the extra time spent with loved ones. Perhaps it’s simply gratitude for having shelter.
What or who makes you feel grateful to be exactly where you are at this moment? Allow yourself to sink into that feeling of gratitude before we move forward.
- Experiences of having our mobility restricted can often make us aware of it and what it means for our lives. In what ways are you able to go deeper within or in relationships, even if you cannot go outside? Do you find yourself reaching out to others electronically? Are there hobbies that you love or that challenge you that you’ve been able to spend more time on? Have you experienced new opportunities to be creative even in small ways?
- All around the world, others are experiencing something similar to us right now. Is there an invitation to experience solidarity with others who may have to shelter in place or cannot leave where they are located? Restrictions to freedom of mobility is something that groups of people suffered from before COVID-19. Is this inviting you to be more aware of the experiences of homebound elderly, refugees, and individuals with disabilities?
- Whether you are sheltering in place with others or alone, how have you experienced God in others? Has it been grace in small gestures, companionship, or learning something new from so much time spent together or in conversation? In what ways has it been hard to see God in others? When have you felt frustrated or wished you had more time to yourself? When have you felt lonely or isolated, even if you are physically with other people?
- Note the emotions you feel when you think of these moments without judging yourself or overanalyzing. Simply acknowledge them, pay attention, and listen to where God may be speaking.
- As you think of the ways in which you experience this change in our freedom of mobility, pick a moment from this experience that seems important, significant, or is manifesting itself the strongest. Pause and reflect on where you’re being invited to grow from that moment. If you are a person of faith, take a moment to pray with it.
- God gifted us with limitless creativity and imagination. Even in this time of separation and restricted movement, what is one way you can experience movement—whether through physical activity, deepened awareness of self and others, or using technology to build connections?
Take a deep breath and a moment of quiet. When you are ready, return to your day.
Susan Haarman is the associate director at Loyola University Chicago’s Center for Experiential Learning, facilitating faculty development and the service-learning program. She has degrees from Marquette University, Loyola University of Chicago, and the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, and previously served as the faith and justice campus minister, also at Loyola University Chicago. In addition to having a Masters in Divinity, she also holds a Masters in Community Counseling, a certificate in directing the 19th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises, and is currently in a doctoral program. Her research focuses on the intersection between social justice education, civic identity, and imagination. She is also an improviser storyteller in Chicago.