I’m reading Shauna Niequist’s new book, Present Over Perfect and have been looking at the practice of Lectio Divina. Ever heard of it? There is something about it that I find so beautiful… specifically cuddled in the thought of, as she wrote, “trying to reimagine my faith as a soft place.”(1) I want to carry a gentle faith, almost soft, yet with the full knowledge that my faith is protective. And I desire my faith to be beautifully well-balanced and not to just see faith as a motivator.
“I picture God’s heart, red and beautiful; I breathe deeply and try to imagine my faith as protection from this frantic, soulless way of living, instead of one of its motivators.”(2) - Chapter “Daughter”(2) from Present over Perfect (1)
The following is paraphrased from Wikipedia - So in portions of the Christian faith, Lectio Divina (Latin for "Divine Reading") is the practice of scriptural reading, meditation and prayer intended to promote communion with God. Scripture is not studied in this practice but instead soaked in as the word, living and active. In a sense, the beloved glance at the verses with Christ. For example, in John 14:27 Jesus says, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you." An analytical approach would focus on the reason for the statement while in Lectio Divina, we would seek to rest inside this peace from Christ rather than "dissecting" it.
“Seek in reading and you will find in meditation; knock in prayer and it will be opened to you in contemplation — The four stages of Lectio Divina as taught by John of the Cross.”
Another way of viewing Lectio Divina has been likened to "feasting on the Word": first, the taking of a bite (lectio); then chewing on it (meditatio); savoring its essence (oratio) and, finally, "digesting" it and making it a part of the body (contemplatio).
- Lectio ("read") “these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.” - 1 Corinthians 2:9–10. In Lectio, you relax into a calm and tranquil state of mind to prepare for full Lectio Divina. A stillness, as in Psalm 46:10: "Be still, and know that I am God,” while inviting the Holy Spirit to guide the reading of the Scripture. The biblical basis for the preparation goes back to 1 Corinthians 2:9–10 which emphasizes the role of the Holy Spirit in revealing the Word of God. Following the preparation, the first movement of Lectio Divina is a slow and gradual reading of the scriptural passage, perhaps a few times.
- Meditatio ("meditate") Although Lectio Divina involves reading, it is less a practice of reading than one of listening to the inner message of the Scripture delivered through the Holy Spirit. Lectio Divina does not seek information or motivation, but communion with God. The second movement in Lectio Divina is meditating and pondering on the scriptural passage. The English word ponder comes from the Latin pondus which relates to the mental activity of weighing or considering. To ponder, the passage is held lightly, gently, and considered from various angles.
- Oratio ("pray") In the Christian tradition, prayer is understood as dialogue with God, that is, as loving conversation with God who has invited us into an embrace about what you "savored" about the verse and God.
- Contemplatio ("contemplate") Contemplation takes place in terms of silent prayer that expresses love for God through what the scripture and Spirit reveal and absorbing it into yourself deeply. In the 14th century, Richard Rolle expressed that contemplation as the path that leads the soul to union with God.
There are all kinds of videos on this practice but when I felt that they all seemed very strategic and seemed too strict especially since this practice provided descriptions of a deep, gentle time with God. So instead, I'll leave this post with a video from David Steindle-Rast because I love his description of considering so many ways God expresses love.
Listening to God: What does it mean to listen to God? Brother David Steindl-Rast explains that "God is so simple that he has only one thing to say: I love you."
Video also found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCqdoEF_Uus