In this busy world, every minute of our day seems crammed with things to be done, places to go and people to see. Even our unscheduled moments are often consumed by television and other media-based entertainment. Free time is a rare commodity. At the end of the day, it is sometimes difficult to remember much of what has taken up all our time. Having so little time for ourselves and those closest to us is an unhealthy, stressful way to live.
Taking time to reflect on the day enables families to identify and share the significant moments they have experienced during the day. This ancient practice, often called the Daily Examen, can be used by families as a tool for talking to one another. It can also lead families into a way of praying together. In a moment of quiet, perhaps during the evening meal or immediately after, parents and children can think back and reflect on their day.
The process is very simple. Sharing the events, circumstances and the people who have been part of it. Invite family members to name the things they are grateful for. Younger children might be asked ‘What made you glad today?’ These are the good moments in the day. Some families identify them as ‘highs’ or as something that tastes sweet, like oranges.
Invite everyone to name something in the day that they regret or wish they had not said or done. These are the not-so-good moments. Some families identify them as ‘lows’ or something that tastes sour, like lemons.
Forming this healthy practice allows parents and children to notice and be glad for all the good things and help one another work through the not-so-good things.
It is interesting that the word ‘healthy’ and the word ‘holy’ originally both came from the same Old English word which meant to be ‘whole’ or ‘complete’. The practice of reflecting on our day together can be a holy action. It can lead us to prayer when we acknowledge God’s presence in all the events and relationships of our lives.
Use these conversations to provide prayer points. Thank God for the good moments in the day and ask God’s forgiveness for the not-so-good moments.
Use a simple prayer such as The Lord’s Prayer or a spontaneous prayer of your own, or sing a song, as a way of offering your highs and lows to God. You might like to use this grateful and hard things handout to encourage your children to share.