The COVID-19 pandemic has awakened in us a deep sense of solidarity and the common good.
As we celebrate Laudato Si’ Week, a celebration of the 5th anniversary of the encyclical, and in light of the reality of COVID-19, we invite you to take some time today to reflect on your sense of solidarity with humanity and creation.
As you prepare to pray, find a comfortable and relaxed but alert posture. Think of this time as an opportunity to rest with God.
Praying the Ignatian Examen can be like watching a movie. Notice memories that pop into your mind. If you believe that God speaks to us through people and relationships, God can also speak to us through our imagination and memory.
As you enter into prayer begin with praise and gratitude. What gifts have you been given this week? Even as many of us find ourselves in quarantine and close to home, God’s blessings abound.
Take some time now to think back over your day or week and recall specific moments in which you felt grateful. Were there any moments in which you felt a sense of connectedness with other people or the earth?
All that you have been given is a gift from God meant to be shared. Take time now to ask for the grace and courage to honestly review your day or week with an accepting heart. Pray for openness to what God wants to show you.
Take time to prayerfully mull over your day or week, trusting that the specific moments that come into your mind are areas that God is inviting you to explore. Consider moments when your heartfelt light as well as times that you felt a heaviness.
When have you felt a deep sense of solidarity and connection with humanity and creation in this past week? In what new ways have you noticed and appreciated your connection and interdependence with other people and the earth? Were there any opportunities for connection and unity that you missed or intentionally avoided? Are there members of the human family you have not considered or are leaving out, even as you remember that everything is connected?
After taking an honest look at your life, always in the context of God’s love, pray for the interior freedom to let go of whatever inhibits your connection to your neighbors and the natural world.
What might you need to give up in order to strengthen your sense of solidarity and connection with the world? Consider habits, ways of thinking, how you spend your time, and anything else that might make you freer to experience heartfelt unity and right relationship with all of creation.
As you look to the future with resurrection hope, take time to talk with God about how you desire to live out a life of solidarity in the time and place that you live. When the conversation feels complete, end with a prayer of thanksgiving.
To conclude, contemplate the words of this poem by Wendell Berry, particularly applicable as we mark the anniversary of Laudato Si’. May it help you to find comfort, reconnect, and ground yourself in the peace of nature when uncertainty in the world weighs on you.
“The Peace of Wild Things” by Wendell Berry
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
[Editor’s Note: This Examen was originally written for a live broadcast of Examen Live! with the Office of Ignatian Spirituality of the Maryland and USA Northeast Provinces of the Society of Jesus. The recording of that broadcast can be found below.]
Brenna Davis is educational resource and environmental justice coordinator for the Ignatian Solidarity Network. She graduated from Boston College in 2010 and served in Cleveland as a Jesuit Volunteer. She previously taught theology, coached cross country, and served as main office coordinator at Saint Martin de Porres, Cleveland’s Cristo Rey High School. During her time there she was the self-proclaimed assistant to the director of facilities in all sustainability initiatives on campus. She is a certified spiritual director and a Cuyahoga County Master Recycler.