In the spring, we plant seeds, but we also notice all kinds of plants sprouting without any help from us. Right now, we have lettuce coming up in a patch of the backyard close to where the lettuce container plant sat last year. Some of the lettuce went to seed and fell into the ground, and we have small bright green leaves now, popping up with the regular grass. I don’t mind lettuce on the lawn, but I do mind certain weeds in the flowerbed or space where the vegetables need their growing room.
Today I ask myself: What is sprouting in my life, and is it helpful or not? The best time to weed is when the plants are young and the roots haven’t grown too deep.
Have I developed a habit lately of talking about a coworker who irritates me? This is especially easy if he irritates other colleagues as well—very easy to begin talking about that irritating person with the small club of people he’s angered lately. As I review my day at work, can I look closely at the words that have come out of my mouth? Am I willing to be honest and identify my own gossip and backbiting?
All kinds of activities sprout when we’re not paying attention:
- Judgment of others
- The impulse to rush around in a half-panic
- Worrying over matters unworthy of all that energy
- Eating for comfort
- Looking for distractions rather than facing work or relationships or problems
One of the simplest ways to discover the unwanted “sprouts” in your life is to do the daily Examen—a prayer St. Ignatius devised to help us review the day.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to guide your thoughts and your memory as you review what you have said and done today.
- Notice and give thanks for all the graces—where God was present.
- Acknowledge and ask forgiveness for your shortcomings, whether outright sins or less-than-healthy responses to what was happening.
- Ask for the help you will need to move forward.
Pray the Examen this week to look for unwanted habits that are popping up in your life.