Consolation and Desolation
One of the spiritual disciplines I practice is the Daily Examen, developed by Saint Ignatius of Loyola in the 16th century and described in his book, The Spiritual Exercises. The idea is to look for the movements of God throughout your day. Ignatius expected that God would speak through our deepest feelings and yearnings, what he called "consolation" and "desolation." For us, consolation is whatever helps us connect with ourselves, others, God, and creation. Desolation is whatever disconnects us.
I love doing the Examen every night. It is a very short form of journaling, and it helps me to see patterns in my day. (It was through the Examen that I started to notice how important swimming had become in my life! See "Lessons from the Water" in my April 2005 Ann-a-Gram.) It needs only to take five to ten minutes at the end of each day. You can also ask these questions while thinking over a larger amount of time, for example a month or a year at a retreat.
There are three useful questions to help you get at what your day's consolation is, offered in the book, Sleeping with Bread:
As Margaret Silf puts it in Inner Compass, the experience of "consolation:
Again, from Sleeping with Bread:
Again, as Margaret Silf says, the experience of "desolation:
The Ann-a-Gram is produced by the Octothorp
© 2003-2006 by Ann Boyd. All rights reserved.