When I first was introduced to the practice of lectio divina many years ago I felt an opening inside of me, as if I was being met right where I was. I discovered in this ancient way of praying a mirror of my own inner movements and longing for contemplative depth. I felt supported in a way of savoring life and listening deeply for the voice of Spirit moving through sacred texts and the world.
Lectio divina has four movements or stages to it which invite us into a place of savoring life and our experience and to discover God’s invitation to us in the midst of our experience. These four movements overflow into the whole of our lives. The first movement is to read the sacred text and listen for a word that shimmers or catches my attention. I do this as I sit to pray each morning with my scripture reading, but also as I move through the day I find that there are moments that shimmer forth: a friend offers me an unexpected insight, I gaze upon my sweetly sleeping dog, I go for a long walk and find the gathering of crows cawing stirs something in my heart, my husband reaches for my hand and in that moment I feel so deeply loved. We all have these shimmering moments calling to us each day if we pay attention. Through lectio I cultivate the capacity to notice these and honor them as important, as sacred.
~Christine Valters Paintner
how you discover the tools over a lifetime that meet you halfway, offer profound vision, and tend to your needs for understanding- are all a microcosm of the power of letting go into mystery….
inquiry for today~ where are the myriad discomforts of the day settling? what ritual do you lean on to find the luminous?
Human beings have a natural pull deep into actual life with all its complexity and challenges. It’s wonderful- I call it soul. But we also have an instinct to explore and taste the mystery of it all and the highest, most ideal and sublime values. That is the spirit. But that mystery can’t be defined or placed in a test tube. The imagination- all those stories and parables and rituals- serves the spirit and gives image to the unnamable. To benefit from the spiritual insights of millennia, we need two powers: one, the capacity to make effective and powerful images, and two, the ability to grasp the thrust of those images and be transformed by them, to feel the presence of the unknown that they conjure up. Again, if you confuse the image with what you are seeking, you will not be int eh realm of spirit at all. Working with imagination is a delicate business. Religious images are a means, not an end. They allow us to be in the presence of the great mystery of life- but to benefit from such powerful images, you have to take care not to make them into idols, interpret them too far, or get stuck on only one set of images. There is a great deal to learn about the imagination, and the best way to begin might to read one of the sacred stories, as story, and open yourself to the mysterious state of mind in which the story places you. Steep in it, live with talk about it, make it one of your own. ~Thomas Moore