HomedotMagisExamenWisdom Story Examen

Wisdom Story Examen

woman walking with flowersWe 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.

Vinita Hampton Wright
Vinita Hampton Wrighthttp://www.loyolapress.com/authors/vinita-hampton-wright
Vinita Hampton Wright edited books for 32 years, retiring in 2021. She has written various fiction and non-fiction books, including the novel Dwelling Places and spirituality books Days of Deepening Friendship, The Art of Spiritual Writing, Small Simple Ways: An Ignatian Daybook for Healthy Spiritual Living, and, most recently, Set the World on Fire: A 4-Week Personal Retreat with the Female Doctors of the Church. Vinita is a spiritual director and continues to facilitate retreats and write fiction and nonfiction. She lives with her husband, two dogs, and a cat in Springdale, Arkansas.


  1. Miss Vinita,
    I don’t know why God brought this “examen” wisdom story to me, but nothing happens by chance. In my search for truth, my growth in faith and charity with God blesses me from the light I receive through discernment. Thank you for sharing this beautiful wisdom story examen with me. May Peace and Grace be with you.

  2. My Dad lived his life always quoting: “Thy will not mine be done O Lord”. He had Polio as a child was bullied terribly at school , so didn’t finish his school education was a Hairdresser and Barber (On feet all day) never complained, would have loved to be a carpenter, used to make toys for my brothers, was a widower at 38 yrs (Mother died of cancer) five children ranging from 16 down to 3 yrs , still didn’t complain married again; 10 years later, to a widow who had six kids, only two had left home—then they had another child (my half-sister) younger than my children, then one of my stepbrothers was killed (a beautiful young man)Still no complaints about God. So when he died I put “Thy Will Not Mine Be Done O Lord” on his headstone. I still miss him. I wish I had his faith which was a simple one ; not anything about Theology etc.Rosary every night , even if we had somewhere else to go! I am in my eighties and he died at 79 years, after losing his second wife to cancer. A.M.D.G. & All his deeds for God!!If ever we complained about anything physical we were told to offer it up for the suffering souls in Purgatory! Hard to live up to!

  3. 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.

  4. 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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