Wisdom Story Examen

woman walking with flowers

We are quite accustomed to hearing wisdom sayings, such as those found in the book of Proverbs or what we look for in a collection of quotations from famous people. This wisdom comes in short phrases, maybe funny or maybe profound. Perhaps we memorize it and store it away.

However, the wisdom that makes its deepest impact on us is what we absorb from stories. A classic myth or fairy tale instills insight that stimulates our emotions and our senses. We associate wisdom with a character and that character’s choices, actions, and discoveries. Even if such a wisdom story is fictional, it teaches us what is true.

Sometimes, our wisdom stories are factual, and we hear them from people we know. Following is an Examen-type prayer to help you discover a wisdom story in your own life.

Take a few moments to quiet yourself and take some deep breaths. Remind yourself, I am surrounded by the light of God’s loving gaze.

Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you to a memory that involves a wisdom story. It could take one of several forms:

  • a story told in your family for many years about how someone got through a hard time or overcame difficulty
  • an experience in which someone taught you how to do something
  • a time you watched a loved one, a neighbor, or an acquaintance demonstrate wisdom through how he or she reacted to a situation
  • advice or encouragement you received from another person, perhaps more than once or on a regular basis
  • an event or situation you experienced that developed your wisdom

Allow yourself to linger with this memory and savor it for several minutes if you can. Allow yourself to experience again the time, place, sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and emotions. Try to express in one simple sentence the wisdom you have remembered.

Express thanks for this wisdom story and what it has added to your life.

If you can pray this honestly, tell God that you are willing to be a source of wisdom stories for others.


Sharing the Wisdom of Time by Pope Francis and Friends is an international effort that collects the stories of elders from more than 30 countries. Carved from lifetimes of experience, every story is a testament to the power of faith, perseverance, human resilience, and love. Learn more at www.sharingwisdomoftime.com.

Photo by Fabrizio Verrecchia on Unsplash.

About Vinita Hampton Wright 172 Articles
Vinita Hampton Wright has served as senior editor at Loyola Press for 16 years and recently became managing editor of the trade books department. She has written various fiction and non-fiction books, including the novel Dwelling Places with HarperOne, Days of Deepening Friendship and The Art of Spiritual Writing for Loyola Press, and most recently, The St. Teresa of Avila Prayer Book for Paraclete Press. Vinita is a student and practitioner of Ignatian spirituality, and from 2009 to 2015 she blogged at Days of Deepening Friendship. For the past few years, she has co-led small groups through the 19th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises. She lives in Chicago with her husband, three cats, and a dog. In her “spare” time these days, she is working on her next novel.

3 Comments on Wisdom Story Examen

  1. Nice one. Thanks, Vinita Hampton Wright. Out here we look at our elderly people as Wisdom Banks. They contain layers and layers of wisdom carefully stored in their hard disks.

  2. I went to a different Parish for Mass on ALL SAINTS FEAST DAY. THe Priest asked us for our view on the feasrt day; what it meant to us, what we were thinking. ( There was only about 12 of us). When it came to me I told the story of my Dad, who was, still IS, my hero. Dad died in 2003 RIP.

    my big brother John died sudden death at aged 37. My sister said to Dad, she had fallen out with God for taking John. My sister told me that
    My Dad replied ” just because you have stopped holding God’s hand, remember God is still holding yours.”
    I am in awe of Dad’s faith to be able to say that when he had lost his son. That is MY wisdom story I treasure from Dad. When I feel God is not listening I remember this and am humbled.

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