May God Be at Your Table

This week at  I.S.C  I had to lead my tutor group through a part of the The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius ~ I was given the Examen ~ I chose to do this by initially exploring with my directees what it might look like to experience the Examen in a more creative, rather that didactic way ~ through meditation.  I wrote the meditation ~ and delivered it over a small table ~ laid with a beautiful embroidered table-cloth ~ with a candle lit at its centre.  We are all sat around the table ~ I guide the meditation using a slow ~ deliberate ~ soft but sure voice.  (the words underlined in bold are for the person guiding the meditation ~ and not to be spoken allowed)  The meditation delivered at the correct pace should take about 20 or so minutes.  There are many gentle pauses and soft stillnesses throughout – but the more significant pauses I have included in bold.

Relax your bodies in to your seat – both feet upon the floor if this is comfortable for you – and if this is not a comfortable position, please find a position which holds your body relaxed – and in a place of stillness quietness and peace, as far as your body and mind will allow.  Allow your mind to be led by the meditation – and feel free to wander where your mind takes you.  Hold gently to these places – and when ready – return to the sacred places to which the meditation leads you.

As you close your eyes in wonder and open the eyes of your heart,  you find yourself in a private restaurant – sitting at a beautiful table – intimately laid for two.  Observe the table – what shape is it – what is it made of  – what height is it  – how big or small is it – how discreet is it – how is it positioned within the room.

Look at the beautiful table-cloth – admire the fabric and the details in the stitching – breathe in the colours – is it plain or patterned – rub your fingers over the cloth – feel the texture – notice the weave – how dense or fine – or soft or coarse it is. Does the cloth remind you of anything.  Whether it does or whether it doesn’t simply enjoy the table-cloth as it dresses the table.

Look at the way the table is laid – the feel and the weight of the cutlery – the style of the setting – is it minimalist – or natural – or ornate.   Is it sophisticated – or simple – expensive or humble.

As your mind observes the setting – you find yourself saying Grace – in your own words and time – as if before a meal.

Longer Pause

May God be at your table.

Starter

There is an empty seat opposite you – and as you are sitting awaiting the unknown in intrigue and wonder, the waiter without you even noticing has discreetly delivered a small plate of delights for you to begin – each one unique in texture and flavour.  As you pick up each delight and put it in your mouth – your taste buds come alive – Each tiny bite as if by wonder, fills you with intense gratitude – as it takes you back to a special or simple moment during in your day in blessing.

Consider these moments as delicate bursts of flavour upon your plate –

Longer Pause

The delights may have evoked the blessing of the autumn leaves falling from the trees – or maybe the laughter of a child.  The sweet or savoury flavours may have taken you back to the smile of a stranger, or the kindness of a friend.  Or the scent of the delights may have reminded you of the cool mists – or a burst of sunshine – or the crystal of sugar, the pattern of the rain on glass. Or maybe you could taste the preciousness of solace – or sense an expression of love. Whatever your delights explore their flavours – texture and presentation.

Longer Pause

Whatever is served upon your plate of delights – savour the taste – enjoy any sweetnesses – and give thanks and glory to God, in gratitude for the blessings and delights served.

Pause

Main Course

Whilst your heart has been being grateful to the Lord – you will see that your plate of gratefulness has been discretely taken away, and that supper has been brought to the table. The plate is ladled with a heavier meal.  Some of the flavours are rich – some of the flavours intense.  There are many different textures, some you like – some you are not so keen on.  As you chew the food, you become aware that some things are tender and melt in your mouth easily.  Other foods upon the plate are tougher, and might take some chewing over.   As you pick over your meal, reflect upon your day – allow the textures of the food served upon your plate, to reflect each portion of your day lived. Where was the tenderness – where were the tougher moments. – Bearing in mind the line from Our Lord’s prayer ‘Give us this day our daily bread’  –   What did your serving of ‘Daily Bread’ look like upon this particular day.  What did you enjoy – what flavours do you notice – how does your day taste – sweet – sour – sharp were there any new flavours to discover – did you comfort eat – was anything rancid or did anything leave you feeling raw – or was it beautifully fresh.  Did you over indulge – or generously share – did anything leave a bad taste in your mouth – was there anything you didn’t like and would rather leave behind – or anything you want to do better next time.  Did you manage to keep all your food on the plate – or did your day spill over and make a mess of the table-cloth.

Longer Pause

Water

As you consider the ingredients of your day – pick up the water glass, that has been left on your table – slowly in a gentle circular motion, sway the water around the glass making the water gently lap the sides of the vessel.  What feelings arise and are stirred to the surface? – Allow them to come naturally – how have the movements of your day left you feeling. Just rest in those feelings for a moment.

Longer Pause

In which moments did you feel closer to God ~ in love and spirit ~ and in which moments did you feel more distant from God.  Where were the moments for you, of consolation and desolation.

Longer Pause

Then lift the glass to your lips – and as you swallow the life-giving water – feel it bringing new life to those parts of your day that felt dry or parched of tenderness.   Allow the water as it refreshes your body and quenches your thirst to cleanse you from any of the day’s bad tastes – Stilling you as it passes through your body.

Let the water restore and replenish you.

Longer Pause

Desert

The waiter has now cleared the table – and removed the top tablecloth to reveal a crisp fresh plain-white undercloth.

A delicate desert awaits you – this desert has a smooth soft but firm texture – and clarity of colour – as you put the spoon into it, it glides through the desert – light and simple.  As you lift it to your mouth you can smell its delicately perfumed scent.  It tastes clean and delicate upon the tongue – and has a slight tartness, bringing the senses alive.  As you swallow your first mouthful – you are blessed with a glimpse of the day ahead, laid out before you like a clear bright day.

Pause

In your own time ask God for His blessings upon the day ahead – that He will fill you with strength and Loving kindness.  Ask Him to give you the grace tomorrow, to grow lightly from the burdens of today, and to bestow new blessings upon you.  Rejoice in the new clarity of the day ahead.

Longer Pause

As you face the empty seat – Thank God for being with you in Spirit.

Longer Pause

. . . and as you quietly leave the restaurant – it slowly dawns upon you – just how Lovingly He served you your day.

Longer Pause

When you are ready come back into the room – and in your own time allow your eyes to open.

Upon the directees opening their eyes ~ I had silently laid their place setting with a small glass of non-alcoholic mulled wine (to represent the blood of Christ) ~ and a small round delicate biscuit (to represent His body).  This was prepared earlier and placed underneath the table ~ hidden by the table-cloth.

We ended the session by sharing in communion.

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About mags

Beloved apostle of His Soul x
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