After another enjoyable time on the Architect of Change radio show, Connie Whitman asked me to share Dr. Sauvage’s 4-Step Spiritual Action Plan and a version of St. Ignatius Examen. Both can help with the spiritual discipline needed to be an architect of change for yourself and the world.
During the show (which I will post as soon as it airs), we also spoke of the spiritual/relational/emotional benefits of gratitude and forgiveness, so I’m also including a poem I wrote many years ago about forgiveness. I had experienced a terrible injustice and this poem helped me to release anger so I could truly forgive.
Forgiveness is an act of the will
An act of self-love in response to anger borne of injustice and hurt
Anger disperses its all-consuming poison
Spreading like a cancer of the soul
Devouring every particle of love and hope
A survival skill, this act of will
Forgiveness is not at first felt
It is practiced
It is deliberate
It is difficult
It is work
Slowly, forgiveness heals the wound
Injustice and hurt wither in the piercing light of acknowledgment
A scar forms
Life slowly takes on the beauty it once held
The eyes see and heart embraces the strength that grew
The love that survived
Pain gives way to understanding
Forgiveness is finally felt
(© 2003 BML)
Speaking of Anger
This year I waited past Christmas and New Year to share the invitation to my annual Novena for Peace. I thought that after last year’s contentious election, the timing for such a Novena would work best in the nine days leading up to the inauguration on January 20th. I’m hoping that together in prayer each of us can become agents of forgiveness and peace.
I believe that forgiveness, gratitude, and prayer are the pathway to peace. So I will share excerpts from chapters 8 & 9 of Opening Hearts that will focus on those topics as part of this year’s Novena.
Whether or not your candidate won, praying for our country, our elected officials, and ourselves is a way to begin to heal the wounds of division and create the change we desire. It’s obvious that we can’t wait for our so-called “leaders” to do so.
Newsflash: There are no deplorables! Not in a basket, in the White House, in your community, or in another country. No matter how separate we appear, WE ARE ONE. To despise another is to despise ones’ self.
So let us pray together for nine days so that we may see each other through the eyes of our Creator.
Perhaps some of the suggestions below will help.
4-Step Spiritual Action Plan
Dr. Sauvage’s four-step plan is but one path to spiritual awareness. It is deceptively simple and quite effective. It is simply this:
1. Visit frequently with God.
2. Embrace and live each day to the fullest.
3. Cultivate gratitude and forgiveness.
4. Serve God by serving humanity.
Prayer is the foundation of this plan. Prayer opens the heart to listening, to forgiveness, to awareness. Prayer practices can help us develop the discipline to live into the transformational habit of awareness. One of my favorite forms of prayer is the Examen. When used daily, it can help us reflect on the ways God (or whatever name you use for the Diving Presence) is present in the everyday ordinary experiences of life.
The Examen below is a simplified version of the original. I received it from the Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life program at St. Aloysius Gonzaga church in Spokane Washington.
Thank you: God my Creator, I am totally held in your care and everything is a gift from you: all that I am, all that I see, all that I experience, all that I have, is gift. I now give you thanks and praise for the gifts of this day (list the things for which you are grateful in this moment and throughout this day).
Help me: Lord, I believe you work through and in time to reveal me to myself. Please give me an increased awareness for how you are guiding and shaping my life. Help me develop a more sensitive awareness to the obstacles I put in your way. Lord, send your Spirit to help me see my life as you see it without the self-deceptions I use to evade either the wonders or failings of my true self (reflect on your thoughts, actions, beliefs, and the ways they connect or disconnect you from love).
I love you: Divine Love, You have been present in my life today. Be near now as I reflect on Your presence in the events of this day, in the feelings I experienced, in Your call to me and my response to you. (Where was God present in what happened to you or around you? Reflect on the emotions you felt today both positive and challenging—where was God in that? What did God ask of you today? How did you respond to God’s call?)
I’m sorry: Gracious God, I ask your loving forgiveness and healing. The particular event of this day I most want healed is ____________ (name the instance that reveals a way you neglected to love yourself or another with the all-encompassing love God has given you; claim God’s healing forgiveness).
Be with me: Holy Spirit, I am filled with hope and a firm belief in your love and power, I entrust myself to your care, and strongly affirm __________ (claim the gift you most desire, need, or believe that God desires for you).
Please join me on January 10th to begin praying a Novena for Peace. Tomorrow I will post the preparatory prayers. Then beginning on the 10th, I will post reflections to accompany the prayers. Praying together, we can make a difference.