Glad About/Sad About
By JIM NICHOLS
Perhaps you have participated in the same exercise that some of my grandchildren have. They call it “glad about/sad about.” For them, this occurs as their parents are putting them to bed each night and the children are asked to reflect on their days as to what made them glad and what made them sad. This is a children’s version of an ancient practice called the Daily Examen; it is part of the teachings of Ignatius of Loyola, a theologian of the sixteenth century.
Rather than calling it Glad about/Sad about, the adult version generally is referred to as “Consolations” and “Desolations.” Perhaps this is old news to you, but if you have not tried to engage in this activity, I urge you to consider it.
The idea is to allow yourself to do a review of the day just ending and to think about what it had to do with God’s purpose for you. We do not commonly use the words “consolations” or “desolations,” they can be misinterpreted. What is really occurring in this activity is that I am looking for movements of God in my life.
The “consolations” may just be moments of happiness (as with the children’s version), but in a more mature way they are moments when, for some reason, our soul is brightened and strengthened by the love of God. They are the times when I feel that I am living with gratitude or God’s understanding of an act or situation. What was joyful for me today? What made me feel good about myself and others today?
“Desolations” refer not simply to something bad that happened during the day, but something that was deeper than that. Were there times during my day when my soul was disturbed and agitated? When did I feel a bit lost today? When did I feel like I was struggling? When did I realize that I was going against my conscience or avoiding changes that need to be made?
Practically, this is something for you to try. I do not do this all the time but go through spurts when I try to follow the pattern. I have a small notebook and at bedtime try to identify one consolation and one desolation. Here are a few sample entries:
C: Had a faith discussion with a student that was hard, but positive.
D: Another student argued for “1 more point” (25 rather than 24) and I came close to losing my patience.
C: I cherished thinking about my mother today.
D: I was sad missing my mother today.
C: Mowing the grass and seeing it done and seeing a full moon at night.
D: My employer telling me there had been a miscalculation in my salary and that it was actually lower than originally stated.
C: I liked helping Jeanenne choose new glasses.
D: I am feeling old and weak.
C: The MLK march was fun.
D: The wind is strong and hard and unpleasant.
Rather than just writing something down to say you have done it, try to look for spiritual connections. Once you have done this for a while, you can go back and read them and see some things about yourself and, perhaps, God will speak to you in a new way.
Jim Nichols is a retired Abilene Christian University biology professor and current medical chaplain