An Examen of Life’s Stories

Cannonball Moments: Telling Your Story, Deepening Your Faith by Eric A. Clayton - book pictured next to author photo

Editor’s Note: This Examen can be prayed at any time, but it is particularly suited to praying while reading and reflecting on Cannonball Moments: Telling Your Story, Deepening Your Faith.


I pause in gratitude to God, whose Holy Spirit has been at work in every moment of my story. I place my trust in God, who has brought me to this moment and will bring me to the next. I imagine God’s Spirit hovering over me, now, last week, in two months, whispering, “This is my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”


I ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate my life’s story. Help me see clearly the unique insights, experiences, culture, connections, values, and wisdom I bring to this moment, to every moment, to moments yet to come. Help me, too, not to shy away from those places in my life that are raw, tender, and in need of compassion and nurture.


In the presence of the Holy Spirit, I look at my life’s story. Perhaps I review just the past year or a year of particular significance. I look for the successes, moments of joy and companionship. What did I learn about myself? What did I learn about who I am and whose I am? How might these learnings be helpful as I become the person I am called to be, for and with others?

I look, too, for the moments of challenge, sorrow, and frustration. What did I learn through those? How did these difficult moments illuminate in me something of God’s dream for the world? Am I being called to reconciliation and mending relationships? Am I being invited to self-improvement through taking a long, hard, loving look at my own missteps?

Need for God

What feelings arise in me as I consider the details of my life story? Turmoil? Anxiety? Fear? Freedom? Awe? Joy? Happiness? Lightness? Anticipation? Creativity? Humor? Grief? Do these feelings lead me deeper into the God who delights in my story or someplace else? What disposition might I assume to make myself more available to God’s love in my life? How might I turn toward God, my God who is always turning toward me in love and mercy? How might that renewed disposition better enable me to share that love with others?

Moving Forward

I recognize that making sense of my life story—the details and the destinations—is an ongoing journey. I ask God for the grace to continue this discernment and to accompany others in their own stories of self. I recognize that my story is a pilgrim story and that I am moving ever onward into the mystery of God’s creation.

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Eric Clayton
Eric A. Clayton is the deputy director of communications for the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States. He has a BA in creative writing and international studies from Fairfield University and an MA in international media from American University. Eric writes Story Scraps on Substack. He lives in Baltimore, MD, with his wife and two daughters. Clayton is the author of Cannonball Moments: Telling Your Story, Deepening Your Faith and My Life with the Jedi: The Spirituality of Star Wars.


  1. Eric has toiled and readied a formidable arsenal of cannonball moments. From his inexhaustible Ignatian spirituality repertoire, Clayton has unleashed his “Operation – Telling Your Story, Deepening Your Faith”. Well done Sir.


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