So much writing about spiritual experiences suggests that they come with the quality of fireworks, overwhelming and exhilarating, colorful and with plenty of noise and light. While those sorts of spiritual experiences are possible, a focus on the fireworks form can mean we overlook the ongoing spiritual experiences that offer themselves to us but without accompanying bursts of light and sound. The following meditation, based on the Ignatian Examen, invites noticing the quieter sorts of spiritual experiences that are present in and around the fireworks of our lives:
Begin by looking back over the past 24 hours with the intent of simply seeing what was good and what you are grateful for, however small, however simple, however ordinary. Note each of these moments of goodness with a silent or spoken expression of thanks.
Now look back over the past 24 hours with the intent of seeing disappointments, whenever you or another person or your surroundings failed in some way, leaving you unhappy, resentful, anxious, depleted. Note each of these moments of disappointment with a silent or spoken expression of regret or apology.
Now look back over the past 24 hours and ask, “what was the most important experience, what do I most want to be sure and remember?” The experience that comes in response to the question may be a lesson to learn, a gift to savor, a warning to heed, an opportunity to seize. Note whatever you recall with a silent or spoken promise to keep it in mind and heart.
When you review your day in such a fashion, looking within the actual events of the day to see what deeper meanings they contain, you are standing before your life assuming that someone, something, God, the Mystery that surrounds and permeates us every second, is presenting you with a spiritual experience–whether fireworks are going off at the time or not. You are being willing to listen and see without requiring those fireworks to grab your attention.