Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transparent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. ~ Sara Ban Breathnach

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Into the Eye of God - Introduction to Lectio Divina

I woke to low rumbling thunder and gray skies.  Thinking of a worship song to begin my morning, one of my favorites came to mind...

May children show me how
to reflect the joy of Jesus!
Lord, this song stirs my heart when I sing its words. Watching this video I thought, "Wouldn't it be great if the lights seen from space of all our cities and monuments were actually the lights of Christians reflecting your light and your glory?" Spirit of Pentecost, fan the flames of Jesus' light that resides in my soul! With your help and your power, may I reflect his light throughout this gray and rainy day! AMEN.

This morning I prayed how to best share Macrina's thoughts on Lectio Divina.  She articulates the history of this spiritual discipline so well, that I think the best way to share, is simply share her words.

She begins by saying that the monastic tradition to which she belongs stresses the value of seeking intimate communion [with God] through persistent dwelling with and in the Word of God. This form of prayer is called Lectio Divina.  Lectio Divina, or Divine Reading, is more than spiritual reading,

...desire to be transformed.
  1. It is reading with the Eye of God  and under the Eye of God.  
  2. It is reading with the desire to be transformed by the Word of God, rather than just to acquire facts about God.
"The incarnational aspect of Christianity reminds us that all of life is full of God. God is in all. Lectio Divina, then, is a way of reading God in everything. Under the eye of God, we read God everywhere, until finally we move into the eye of God." (Macrina Wiederkehr, A Tree Full of Angels, p 50)


To back up, for just a moment... Incarnate means "out of flesh born".  When I think of Jesus being the incarnate image of God, I think of "God the Son".  God the Creator, who created all that I see, came to earth to walk and live as a man, as God the Son. 

As Macrina says, "all of life is full of God. God is in all." All the exercises and thoughts she has shared up to this point, is a way of helping me hold on to this truth.  God is everywhere.  God is in nature.  God is in music. God is in art. God is in words....when I hold this as truth, then when I read scripture I read it "with the eye of God" because God is in me.  I read it under the eye of God, because God is all around me.

Yesterday I used a worship video of Michael W Smith's song, Your Are the Air I Breathe. "Your very presence living in me."  Consider again the truth that God is the very air that I breathe...

The early monastic communities from which the practice of Lectio Divina emerged placed an emphases on the reading of Scripture.

"The disciple was encouraged to hover over the Word of the Spirit once hovered over the birthing world...The one who is immersed in the Word of God in the Scriptures is eventually able to read God in all things. Divine Reading becomes a way of life." (Ibid)
 Guigo II, a 12th century monk divides the experience of Lectio into four phrases: reading, meditation, prayer, and contemplation.

Guigo said that reading (lectio) puts food whole into the mouth.  Mediation (meditatio) chews it, digs for the treasure. Prayer (oratio) extracts the flavor and helps me to get to know the treasure. Contemplation (contemplatio) embraces and welcomes the thirsty soul. * words in ( ) are the Latin.

Macrina offers beginning advice as I again approach this spiritual discipline. 

  • Always read the Scriptures with a heart ready to repent.
  • Receive the storm that repentance brings. 
  • Let the holy winds toss you to and fro. 
  • You will be awakened to new depths as your wrestle with the life forces within.
  • What seems like violence...will lead you gently into the eye of God where all is calm and quiet..
  • will rest and learn...
  • When you finally will be carried by angels into the eye of God. There you will rest in peace and learn to see like God. (Wiederkehr, p 51)

Macrina uses a quote from Benedictine Abbot Marmion as a guide when she spend time in Divine Reading.
Read under the eye of God
until your heart is touched,
then give yourself up to love.

For the next five days, I will journal on each of the four phrases of Lectio Divina plus a fifth phrase that Macrina has added.

1. Read under the eye of God. (Reading)
2. ...until your heart is touched. (Meditation)
3. ...until your heart is touched (Prayer)
4. ...then give yourself up to love. (Contemplation)
5. Journaling

A few weeks ago, I introduced the practice of The Examen.  That is also a way to pray.  Lectio Divina is simply another way to pray. If you would like more of an explanation, you might want to listen to the energetic Father Matthew explain this practice in a fun, yet well articulated manner... Lectio Divina....

God, you have dropped crumbs of this spiritual practice along my path so many times.  Help me to discover my lessons within Macrina's thoughts.  Help me discover what you would have me learn. Jesus, you are the Word, by your Spirit, make it come alive in me as I read and journal about this practice.  AMEN.

Many Blessings ~ Sandi

1 comment:

  1. Once again- thank you for sharing ways to study God's word, so we can know Him more.