Tuesday, January 08, 2008

New Year Check Up

Whatever you think of Gordon Brown’s idea of a check-up on the NHS, he has his timing right. The New Year is a good time to be looking things over and putting things right.

So may I suggest that now is a good time for a spiritual check up, to look at our inner-lives and see if they are working as well as they might? There is an ancient spiritual discipline called the examen that can help with this. It suggests that we ask ourselves two questions: where have I met God in the past day?; and where have I failed to recognise God in the past day?

The first question asks us to look back over a day, or a week, or even a year, and ask ourselves what there is to be thankful for; the people, places and things that have done us good. It doesn’t ask us to be sentimental, simply to be honest with ourselves, and to recognise the good that we have encountered and then to say thank you.

The second question asks us to look back and to ask where we have not done all that we should have done, or where we have done things that were not good at all. This is not an exercise in self-induced guilt, simply an honest appraisal of where we have got things wrong. We are to recognise them and to say sorry.

So there you have it, a simple and easy to use spiritual check up. No political rows, no prescription fee and no waiting lists. Just find yourself some space and some quiet, ask yourself what good you have come across and say thank you; then ask yourself what you have got wrong and say sorry. And remember – be honest with yourself. And may you have a very happy and healthy new year.

Given as Thought for the Day on BBC Radio Bristol. 8.1.8.

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