Thursday, June 16, 2022

Various Versions of Divina

Yesterday, we did several sessions of lectio divina.  Lectio devina is different than Bible study; the traditional approach is to read a Bible passage several times, often out loud, and to listen to what God might be saying to the listener. Often the second reading will have the listener choose a word or phrase that God is using to speak to the listener, and subsequent readings have the listener focus that word or phrase.

My experiences with lectio divina have been like the one we had in the evening worship service where the passage is a longer passage. In last night's worship service we used the text of Psalm 8, the whole Psalm.

During our afternoon instructional time, we used a much shorter passage, part of Psalm 46: 10, just 8 words:  "Be still, and know that I am God."

Our lectio divina leader told us to listen for three words and to let them minister to us. In a later reading we were to choose one of those three words as the one that was speaking to us.  We had time to meditate on the words, and we had time to share our insights with another member of the group.

We also did visio divina, a practice that is not as well known. Barbara L. Peacock was our special guest and instructional leader yesterday. She's the author of one of the books that the program uses, Soul Care in African American Practice. On the larger screen we saw a projection of the book cover: 

It's a gorgeous cover but it wasn't the first cover. She told us that the first cover had a background of kente cloth, along with the images of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, and someone else (Frederick Douglass?) overlayed.  Her adult daughter who is a graphic designer said that the cover was too retro and that the fresh work inside the cover needed a better cover.  And so they came up with one.

The cover shows all kinds of abstract shapes, along with vivid colors, and we were asked to focus on one section of the cover and to see what was revealed.  Those who were willing were encouraged to share what they saw, and I was surprised by how many different images we saw. I saw a little house with a garden just under the left side of the white box that holds the title.  Others saw rivers or thorny branches or nebulas.  Some of us focused on the form of the woman with the uplifted head that his presented in shadow.

One of the things that I appreciated yesterday is that we didn't just talk about spiritual practices that we might use in life and in spiritual direction, but we actually practiced them together. The small group work didn't take up inordinate amounts of time, the way they sometimes can.

I am aware that the practices may not work for everyone, and happily, we will experience a variety of practices. I am about to go walk the labyrinth before it gets too much hotter and then I'll go to a morning worship of centering prayer--all of this before breakfast. I will begin the day nourished in so many ways.

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