During the bombing raids of WWII, thousands of children were orphaned and left to starve. The fortunate ones were rescued and placed in refugee camps where they received food and good care. But many of these children who had lost so much could not sleep at night. They feared waking up to find themselves once again homeless and without food. Nothing seemed to reassure them. Finally, someone hit upon the idea of giving each child a piece of bread to hold at bedtime. Holding their bread, these children could finally sleep in peace. All through the night the bread reminded them, "Today I ate and I will eat again tomorrow." (Linn, Dennis et al, Sleeping
With Bread, p.l)
These are the beginning words of a book that introduced me to a practice called the examen. The orphans held on to what nourished them and were thus able to sleep peacefully at night. The examen, based on the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius, helps a person hold onto what spiritually nourishes him by looking at what is giving him consolation in his life or causing him desolation. It allows someone to express his gratitude to God for the good stuff and turn to him for solace for the bad stuff.
It is quite simple. You simply ask yourself, in the last day/week/month what gave me consolation and what caused me desolation. You can also phrase the question in any of the following ways:
* For what am I most grateful? Least grateful?
* When did I give and receive the most love? The least love?
* When did I feel most alive? Most drained of life?
* When did I have the greatest sense of belonging? Least sense of belonging?
* When was I most free? Least free?
* When was I most creative? Least creative?
* When did I feel most connected? Least connected?
* When did I feel most fully myself? Least myself?
* When did I feel most whole? Most fragmented?
I've done this with groups of friends and with my family. With the kids, we call it "Best Thing/Worst Thing" and we usually light a candle, have everyone share and then blow the candle out.
For some time now, I've thought this would make a great blog meme. It isn't a "fun" one, but, come on, I'm an NF (intuitive feeler) and I'm all about the Big Picture, Meaning with a capital M and My Place in the Greater Scheme. It's my nature. So, won't you please join me for Sleeping with Bread Monday? I'll start and you can post yours here or do your own post and leave a link in the comments for us to follow. Now, I fully anticipate this meme is going to take the blogosphere by storm. I. Know. It. I anticipate no fewer than 5 participants. (Wow!) So don't miss out on your opportunity to be among the first bloggers to be a part of this exciting new meme! There needed to be a weency bit of levity in this post. ;)
Sleeping with Bread MondayIn the last month, when did I feel the greatest sense of belonging and the least sense of belonging?
Because of my ongoing adventures in sleep apnea, I have been a tired, irritable, lethargic person. It hasn't been all bad, all the time, but it has been extremely challenging. As a result, I haven't felt connected to my friends or my community very much. Reaching out has felt unnatural and even when I am with people, I don't feel like myself. I can push past it, but it feels heavy and futile like Sisyphus pushing that rock up the mountainside, only to have it roll back down, leaving him to start again the next day. That has led to me feeling a lack of belonging. I know this is only a feeling but it sucks.
During all this, a great sense of consolation and belonging has come from worshiping in our church service on Sunday mornings. At some of the lowest times of my life, corporate worship has provided a place where I can't keep up a facade. I am able to let go, lift up my hands and let the Spirit of God comfort me. It is often a place of tears--that feel like being shed during the week but aren't. I am very grateful for that time.