By Katie Lacz
As my toddler gets older, I’m excited for him to get to know the things I love best about Ignatian spirituality: finding God in all things. Seeking the magis. Discernment of spirits. The Examen.
I’ve been thinking about how to help him notice, deliberately. And what is the Examen if not an opportunity to walk back through our day and notice? To notice God or notice where we didn’t feel close to God. Similarly, to notice the gifts we experienced and the moments of difficulty or darkness we faced. I’m trying to think through how to bring this down to a toddler level. I want to make it natural to look back on the day with a sense of gratitude, awareness, and hope. (I’m not the only one, it turns out – a dear friend is working on a children’s book that looks at the same thing.)
What might the Examen look like with a toddler?
Invitation: A short, “God, help us to look back at what we did today.” Or, “God, help us to notice how you were with us today” can begin a brief time of prayer.
Gratitude: Ask your little one, “What was something great that happened today?”
Review: Talk about what else you did today – friends you saw, food you ate, experiences you had. All of it matters to God (and to us as parents!).
Failings/Hard things: Ask your toddler what was difficult about today. Perhaps there’s something they wish had been different in how they acted or how someone acted towards them. If the answer is something simple like not being able to play with a toy, that’s OK. This is all about learning to notice.
Hope: What’s something they hope for tomorrow? Can they tell God and let God be excited with them about it?
Katie served as a Jesuit Volunteer in Raleigh, North Carolina in 2006. She holds a BA in Journalism from Ithaca College, and a Masters of Divinity from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. She currently lives in Colorado with their family. Katie also maintains her own blog at Pure Buttermilk.
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