This July on the Arlington Commons Church Blog, we’re exploring spiritual practices that help us grow closer to God, ourselves, and each other. Thoughts? Experience? Practices you try and recommend? Challenges or pushback? Questions? Leave us a comment! We want to hear from, learn with, and grow alongside you.
See Part I HERE
In our last post, we explored the Ignatian Examen, which offers us a way of reflecting on our day: recognizing where God was present, giving thanks for our many gifts, focusing-in on one aspect of the day, and then looking to the day ahead. The Examen is a practice of paying attention so that we move through our days (and hopefully with some practice--our weeks, years, and lives) with intentionality, cultivating gratitude and peace. If you’re anything like me, the never-ending to-do lists can make life feel functional instead of meaningful, unless I build in time for reflection. How’s the Examen going for you? Comment and let us know.
Today, we’re engaging another spiritual practice of paying attention called Lectio Divina. Whereas the Ignatian Examen is paying attention and listening for God through daily reflection, Lectio Divina is paying attention to God through a prayerful reading of scripture.
There are many ways to read the Bible: for edification, encouragement, academic study, inspiration, form analysis….you name it. These are important and useful in their own right.
Lectio Divina, though, is a way of reading scripture, not for information, but to to listen to what God has to say through the reading. The practice is about reading, reflecting, responding, and resting in what God has to say. Saint Benedict of Nursia, whose communities solidified this practice in the 6th century, called it “listening with the ear of the heart”. Lots of good info here: https://www.saintandrewsabbey.com/Lectio_Divina_s/267.htm
For the last ten months, a small group of women have been gathering at my house as a way to build community and to grow closer to God, ourselves, and each other. Each week, we engage in Lectio Divina together. Week after week, without exception, I’m overwhelmed by the ways this practice surprises us with what God has to say, builds connections among us, speaks to us uniquely, and reminds us that God is still speaking today through ancient texts. Side Note: if you are local to Arlington/D.C. and want to join us, send me an e-mail.
Here are the basics. I invite you to engage in the practice, whether you’ve been reading scripture for years, have never picked up a bible, or are somewhere in between. Read. Reflect. Respond. Rest. Pay attention. See what happens.
Get in a comfortable position. Close your eyes. Take three deep breaths, in and out.
1. Read through the passage silently. Read through the passage aloud.
2. Pick a word or phrase that stands out to you. Spend some time in silent reflection on that word or phrase.
3. Read through the text again--spend some time in silent reflection, asking why God may be using this word or phrase to connect with your life today.
4. Read through the text a final time. Ask God what your reflection on this passage, on this word or phrase, is calling you to do or to be.
What do you hear? How is your heart poised to listen? How is an ancient text speaking to your life anew, afresh, today?
by Kate Floyd