I had lunch with a new friend last week. Jenna is the wife of one of my coworkers, and the two of us served on a committee together over the summer months. Both of us sensed, working together, a kinship of thinking. We shared a spiritual connection. And so, when our time on the committee was up, we made plans to reconnect, just the two of us.
This is one of the sweet surprises of being part of the body. We are one body with many members, and these members are not all the same.* And yet. Every now and again you meet someone whose journey has closely mirrored your own, and the things God has been showing her, and the things he shows you, connect somehow. It was this way with Jenna.
So the two of us met at Panera last week and we shared our stories. Jenna talked about being a first-time mom, her little daughter just nine months old. And I talked about being mom to two new sons – mine, too, these last nine months. Both Jenna and I had been seminary students prior to “birthing” our children; both put school on hold for a season, although Jenna’s season will be shorter than mine.
We talked about the stresses caused by change, the temptation to fear in the face of unknowns. We talked about seasons of anxiety. And how God shows up in our fear.
I told Jenna about the most important thing God showed me during my most anxious days. How he led me to seek him, one day at a time, paying attention to his provision, and giving thanks. Yesterday’s manna and today’s requests. Two lists written daily in my journal, so I wouldn’t forget. Jenna said, “That reminds me of the Daily Examen.” A practice that helped her get through the hard days, too.
The next day I looked it up. Daily Examen. It wasn’t at all what I expected, and I laughed out loud. It was a list. Five simple practices, compiled by a monk, 500 years ago.
- Become aware of God’s presence.
- Review the day with gratitude.
- Pay attention to your emotions.
- Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
- Look toward tomorrow.
Five hundred years ago God showed this man Ignatius something crazy similar to the things He’s been showing me. Today.
We are his body, and its members are many. All of us together, for thousands of years. Seeking the same Father. Listening to the same Spirit. Following Jesus. Ignatius, Jenna, and me. And the rest of us, too.
So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.*