Posted by: jmdenham | March 16, 2011

An Examen Exercise

My examen from tonight:

What moment am I most grateful and least Grateful? I was most grateful for a card I received in the mail from a friend from church, Glenn Harper, who was so appreciative of the Rockets game we went to together and shared fellowship.  I found myself feeling very grateful to have had that experience of fellowship.  I also was grateful when a friend shook my hand this afternoon after work and seemed interested in how my day was.  I was least grateful today when I woke up this morning- I was exhausted since family of the elderly man I live with has come in and they are staying in my room.  Though I really like spending time with them, I was very frustrated and ingrateful for their presence if only because I am not getting that much sleep!

When did I give and receive the most love today?  When did I give and receive the least?  The visit I did today with an 80 year old man with Parkinson’s was a visit full of given love as I listened to him share about being frustrated and feeling ignored, and affirmed his feelings, affirmed his story by listening to him tell about his life, and affirmed God’s compassion for him through my compassion when he viewed God as punishing.  I was blessed to show my loyalty to him as human being when his world was falling apart.  I received love today when I was affirmed by my supervisor for what I am- an ESFJ (Keirsey Temperament Sorter) which reflects my adaptability and open minded and search for pleasure in life and relationships.  I gave the least love when I came home to the elderly man tonight and felt so frustrated with him that I didn’t want to talk to him.  I received the least love from a nurse who seemed to blow me off today.

What was the most life giving part of my day and what was the least life giving part of the day?  The most life giving moment of the day was when I stopped to see a woman who has been in the hospital for a month and is moving on finally. Being with her and seeing her smile and feel encouraged with a new significance, I felt like I was given life.  The least life giving part of the day came just in the time after getting home from work and waiting until church.  Because the children’s class has been difficult to go to the last two weeks because of a couple kids acting out really terribly, I have felt awful today feeling excited about going, taking my enthusiasm out for the day.

When did I have the deepest sense of connection to God?  The least sense of connection with God?  In that visit with the man with Parkinson’s I felt a great sense of connection with God because I was reflecting the qualities of compassion and mercy that I seek and find in God.  And for whatever reason, I found the prayer in Donuts and Devotional at the chaplains meeting this morning to connect me with God in the sense of repentance.  The least sense of connection with God would be the time I ignored/neglected the elderly man.  The bitterness in me seemed to place me very far from God.

Where was I living out the fruit of the Spirit?  And where was the absence of the fruits of the Spirit?  Actually, this morning at the D & D meeting I held off on the good looking bagels because of my Lenten fast, and I felt like I truly had a sense of the Holy Spirit and self control  (not mastered- just a sense!).  And that visit with the Parkinson’s man was a place of peace and kindness.  Instead of taking his comments about the theme of punishment of Christians and his own frustration and ager personally, I maintained myself and reflected a peace and kindness towards him that helped him eventually feel comfortable and lower his defenses. There was an absence of the Holy Spirit when I arrived home tonight.  Perhaps it was a general sense of feeling tired and empty from the whole day of work mixed with my feelings towards the elderly man, but I just didn’t sense any good fruit coming out of that 30 minutes.

When did I experience consolation and desolation?  I experienced consolation in my workout today, as it seemed to bring light to my dark feelings of tiredness.  I experienced consolation when I saw my supervisor and that brought a sense of connectedness.  I experienced consolation visiting with a family choosing to place their loved one in hospice and then affirming their tears and grief as gratitude for his life.  I also experienced consolation in a didactic on an upcoming consultation interview and feeling affirmed to be a good chaplain soon.  I experienced desolation as I mourned for the sadness of the man with Parkinson’s inasmuch as I felt much love in that visit too.  I experienced desolation in my tiredness and felt far from God when the tiredness crept in.

Good thoughts.  A great exercise for anyone.  As you notice, I draw lots of energy from being with others, and I really hurt when relationships with someone is off kilter, like the relationship with the elderly man and the man with Parkinson’s who felt ignored.

God, reveal your presence throughout this world, and may your mercies and mysteries bring light to dark and weary places. Amen.

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