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By Cameron Bellm

This poem, along with other Ignatian prayers, poems, reflections and art, first appeared in our free e-book, “Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: Through the Year with Ignatian Spirituality.” Sign up to receive it at

The Examen

To pray the examen,
Settle in on the beach with God as the day’s light wanes.
Breathe as deeply as you can
Of salty air and Divine Presence.

When you feel ready,
Turn your eyes to the water
And watch with God what the tide brings in
As you look back together, lovingly, at your day.

Some of it will be beautiful—
Sea glass and sand dollars—
The moments when you saw and felt God,
When you chose to extend your heart and hands in love
When you delighted in a child’s laugh or a bird’s call.
Give thanks for them.

Some of it will be harder to confront—
Broken shells and tangles of seaweed—
The words you wish you could take back,
The opportunity you missed to be there for a friend,
The moments when you drifted away from God.
For these ask forgiveness.

Pay attention to your emotions
As you listen to the song of the waves,
As you take in the relics of a day at sea—
For God is with you even in those.

Rise slowly when you are ready
And choose one item from the bounty on the shore.
Bring it back to God and gaze upon it together.
Turn it over in your hands
As you listen to God’s voice,
Helping you interpret it.

Then bend down in the surf with God and set it free.
As the water tickles your toes,
Look out on the horizon
And ask God
Which way you should steer your boat

Cameron Bellm writes the Spirit & Verse column at and is the author of “A Consoling Embrace: Prayers for a Time of Pandemic.”