"For a long time I have held my peace, I have kept myself still and restrained myself; now I will cry out like a woman in labor, I will gasp and pant" (Is 42:14)


Wandering Albatross (Diomedea exulans) in flight, East of the Tasman Peninsula, Tasmania, Australia. https://www.jjharrison.com.au/Birds-by-country/Birds-of-Australia/i-txSw22c

id you know that the Wandering Albatross has the longest wingspan of any living bird? CS Lewis, in the Chronicles of Narnia, uses this large sea-bird as a symbol for God—more specifically for Christ. When crunch time came along the voyage of the Dawn Treader, Lucy Pevensie (Georgie Henley) desperate calls on Aslan for help. "Aslan, Aslan, if ever you loved us at all, send us help now." "Courage, dear heart" (Lucy and Aslan, in the Dark Island). With the voice came a broad beam of light cutting through the darkness in Dark Island. It appeared first like the image of a cross but it was an albatross. The appearance and the voice became the uplifting presence of Aslan to lift Caspian X (Benjamin Thomas Barnes) and the crew of the Dawn Treader out of the dark spell. After that the albatross disappeared from view. We come to the third moment of the Examen prayer for day seventeen of the Season of Creation.

III. PRESENCE (3/5): With both air and proper shape of wings, the flight might not still be possible without a third element called lift. It is a force that results from the interaction between the air and the wings. As the bird dives into the air it is pushed upward by air blowing over its body surface. As air blows above the wing, the body is lifted from behind through propulsion. It is likened to an invisible hand that lifts an animal aloft. At first, the bird might start exerting a lot of effort when flying. Just as in the examen, there could be a lot of challenges too at first. Birds experience being dragged down because the wind is not propelled or directed as it should be around the body. It could be a rollercoaster of emotion, especially for the fledglings on their maiden flights. But as the bird matures with more experiences in flying, it gains greater familiarity with the air flowing between its thicker feathers and stronger muscles. A bird constantly changes the shape of its wings to steer through the air. It can even move single-wing feathers to change direction. Both bird and air have become so united like two souls dancing in communion. Such is the bird’s intuition which is like the interior knowledge that is deepened in every examen. A person, like a bird, knows when to make a downstroke, an upstroke, or other kinds of spiritual movements. A bird flaps its wings too fast that we cannot see all its movements. Similarly, we are like that, living our lives mostly unmindful of where we are headed and risking injury to ourselves and our neighbors. The examen has already been done ever since human consciousness existed. There is an ancient dictum, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” The largest sea birds—the wandering albatross—circumnavigate the world three times a year. They only touch the ground to nest or to eat. Throughout their long lifespan, they are perpetually lifted being embraced by the air. Likewise, examining one’s life daily is central to living a healthy spiritual life sustained by God’s presence. No wonder St Ignatius of Loyola held the examen in the highest esteem. To skip a day without the examen is like being disconnected from God’s presence that embraces our entire body, mind, heart, and soul. To forget the Spirit’s interior movements is like a bird forgetting how to fly or how to commune with the air. It would be good to ask here, “Where did I encounter the uplifting presence of God this past few hours?” 8thWorker.us


  1. Constant awareness of God's loving and gentle presence brings joy, faith, hope,love, strength and confidence...Grant me the grace to see, feel and listen to you... God bless us!


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