BY SUSAN HAARMAN, PH.D. | June 14, 2023
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.
1. Acknowledge how you are feeling at this moment. Is prayer a place that feels familiar and welcome to you? Does it feel like a place you can bring your full self? If so, what has helped you feel that way? If not, what parts of your life would you like to feel love and acceptance around?
2. 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.
3. As we are in June and Pride Month, take a moment to consider the ways in which the LGBTQIA+ community enlivens and animates our world. When you think about Pride Month, where do you feel gratitude?
- It may be the chosen family and experiences of love you have found in the community and the people you experience God’s love through.
- It may be a deep gratitude for a particular person in your life and the ways in which the presence of God can be felt through how they move in the world and treat others.
4. Rooted in that deep sense of gratitude for the LGBTQIA+ community, take a moment to consider how the richness of that community is present in your own life. Is it something you observe from afar? Experience through your relationships with others? Participate in yourself?
5. An essential part of the Examen is the experience of reviewing your actions and paying attention to where God was present. This Examen invites you to consider your interactions with the LGBTQIA+ community recently. It may be helpful for some to first think of a specific person who is on your mind or your heart.
- Picture that person in your mind. Take a moment to be grateful for them. What identities do you share with them? How do your identities differ? What perspectives do you share in common? Where do your perspectives differ?
6. The last year has seen the queer community become the target of increasing physical, emotional, political, and spiritual threats to their human dignity. The Gospel calls us to defend that sacred dignity.
Reflect on how you have responded to that call. Pay attention to your emotions as you do so.
- Did you recognize an opportunity, through words or actions, to celebrate and affirm the dignity and giftedness of the LGBTQIA community – be it yourself or others?
- Were there moments when you remained silent or took no action when you knew God was calling you to do otherwise?
- Are there things you said or actions you took that you would do over if you could?
- Are there things you said or actions you took that you are proud of?
- Have you sought to listen to the perspective of those whose identities are different from yours, especially across race, gender, or sexual orientation?
7. In your imagination, allow the person you called to mind earlier to speak to you—perhaps with affirmation, perhaps with challenge, perhaps with a revealing silence. How do you feel about what they are saying to you? 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.
8. Scripture reminds us that every person is made in God’s image, knit together in their mother’s womb by a loving Creator who sees and knows every part of them and calls it good. Take a moment and resolve how you will reflect that love to the LGBTQIA+ community—yourself or others—as you move forward from this time of prayer.
Take a deep breath and a moment of quiet. When you are ready, return to your day. If you are a person of faith, the following language to close your prayer may also be helpful.
I offer this prayer in the name of the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, who found a chosen family on the margins of society among people that religious leaders claimed were unworthy, and whose behavior never seemed to fit with the gender norms of the time. Amen.
Dr. Susan Haarman is the associate director at Loyola University Chicago’s Center for Engaged Learning, Teaching, and Scholarship where she facilitates faculty development and the university’s 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 and ran service immersions. In addition to having a Ph.D. in Cultural and Educational Policy Studies, she holds a Master’s in Divinity, a Master’s in Community Counseling, a certificate in directing the 19th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises, and is a licensed therapist. Her research focuses on the intersection between social justice education, community-based learning, civic identity, and imagination. She is also an improviser and a storyteller. She plans to spend Pride trying to talk her girlfriend into finally watching D.E.B.S.