Daily Devotions
 
Daily Devotion
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church

Daily Devotion

I got a new game in the mail the other week—surprise, surprise—called Zen Tiles and I’m in love. It’s a tiny little box, no more than 1½” by 3” and filled with 20 little wooden tiles and a beautiful blue stone. You lay out a wooden timeline that represents the day just past. You slowly draw out one tile and notice that it has a feeling written on it—sad, nervous, healing. You place it near the timeline at the moment you experienced it. You draw another. You wonder if you did, in fact, feel that feeling. You are surprised when you felt jealous or lonely or beautiful. You remember.

When you have finished placing the tiles, you take the stone in your hand. The directions say that you’ve done good work in looking honestly at your day and you deserve a treat, like this beautiful stone—this line makes me giggle a little, but also it really is a beautiful stone. You place the stone on the tile that you are particularly proud of who you were in that moment. 

Zen Tiles is not really a game, it’s more of a tool for prayer like a rosary or candle-lighting. It’s about looking back at the day that has passed with compassion. It reminds me quite a bit of the Ignatian Examen. St. Ignatius lived in the 16thcentury and founded the monastic order of the Jesuits. Among other things, he developed a daily contemplative practice that involves slowly recalling the details of every event of the day that has passed. You begin in the morning, recalling what you ate, who you spoke to, what you did, how your body and soul felt. You continue through your day, in order. Once you have completed your inventory, you name for yourself a moment you feel particularly good about, large or small, and you “dwell” in it, that is, you recreate the memory in your imagination, you feel again the goodness of it and be grateful for it. Then you name for yourself a moment you don’t feel particularly good about, a moment of pain or frustration, and you dwell in that moment, too. You recreate that moment, you feel again the suffering or the loneliness, and again you are grateful for it.

Sound difficult? It is! And it is so helpful and freeing. To find something about a painful moment that you can be grateful for, even the pain itself which might be your teacher. I don’t know if St. Ignatius knew the work of Rumi, but the last stanza of the poem I mentioned yesterday, “The Guest House,” is this:

“Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.”

You’re very welcome to try out my copy of Zen Tiles if you like, but you can try out Ignatius’ Examen at home whenever you like. I’d love to know how it goes for you.

 

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