Lectio Divina ("sacred reading") is an ancient form of contemplative prayer and a powerful way of working with scripture, poetry, even images. The practice involves four steps:
1. Read (lectio): read a passage or poem two or three times, slowly and out loud if possible, paying attention to the word or phrase that calls to you or shimmers for you...the word or words that speak to your heart in some way.
2. Reflect (meditatio): rest quietly with the word or phrase, letting it unfold for you and paying attention to images, memories or stories that surface.
3. Respond (oratio): this is where the words meet you wherever you are in your life and offer some form of invitation. As you move from the more intellectual reflection in step two, listen for what begins to emerge. Keep in mind that the invitation may or may not feel "inviting." The words may challenge you in some way that's not completely comfortable or they might uncover some resistance, fear, anger, etc. Just be with whatever happens.
4. Rest (contemplatio): the experience of contemplation is impossible to put words to, but think of step four as a place of rest where you allow God to take over the practice. Let the prayer begin to pray you.
We don't know how it works, but can tell you that the words that speak to your heart are often a key to some awareness that wants to be known. Sitting with the words not only gives your mind something to do, but opens the channel for that insight to be revealed.
A few guidelines/things to keep in mind:
1. The steps above are not linear. You will find your own flow that moves you in and among and between them, and it will likely be different each time.
2. If possible, allow at least 15 minutes for the practice plus a little journaling time to capture what comes up for you.
3. It is really powerful to work with the same passage several times over the course of a week and allow it to take you deeper and deeper.
Following is a passage that we have found to be particularly rich, no matter how many times we return to it. Work with this and/or exprayeriment with your own favorite passages, poems, prayers, etc. Send us your questions, comments, suggestions and anything you'd like to share of your experience (click here to view this post on the F2 site and add your comments)!
Now I am revealing new things to you
Things hidden and unknown to you
Created just now, this very moment.
Of these things you have heard nothing until now.
So that you cannot say, Oh yes, I knew this.
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For more detailed information on Lectio Divina, check out the following resources:
Lectio Divina as a Life Practice by Christine Valters Paintner
Too Deep For Words: Rediscovering Lectio Divina by Thelma Hall, r.c.
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Check out last week's post for a little surprise and the announcement of the reflective art journal winner!
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