The other day, a difficult one at that, I was driving home with my daughter in the back seat. She was gracious enough to not play her favorite song on loop, and instead allow her father to pray.
I went to put on the Wayne Dyer podcast, but the Examen started to play. I forgot that I downloaded this podcast by Jesuit priest, Rev. James Martin. The Examen is a daily reflection that I prayed from time to time in the past.
The 18-minute prayer happened to be the same amount of time of the drive. I found some peace in the processing of the prior events of the day.
The Examen focuses on the day- breaking up each reflection by morning, noon, afternoon, and night. It allowed me to process the afternoon which added some levels of stress, hurt, and frustration. I emerged from it with understanding, but this prayer gave me some temporary peace.
What was most striking from the prayer experience was the words that Fr Martin repeated several times: “pay attention.”
I would by lying to say that I was intentionally paying attention over the next 24-hours. It was more like a subtle reminder as I recalled the Examen experience throughout the day.
What surprised me was that over the next day, I did pay attention. I noticed my daughter’s smile even more, even in the midst of her destroying. I noticed the sadness in some loved one’s eyes, and I noticed the joy in a colleague’s face as he reflected on his older children as he heard my daughter say “dada.”
I payed attention. I didn’t look at life through a microscope, searching for small details. Instead, I opened a door in my consciousness to be aware, even if I wasn’t intentionally doing it- as we do with breathing or blinking.
I will continue to pay attention, and I trust it will move me up the spiritual ladder into a deeper, well-lived life. I invite you to join me as we pay attention together.