Community Lectio Divina: Give Me a Word

With January comes a new invitation for contemplation. This month I invite you into a lectio divina practice with a short reading from the desert fathers and mothers. Here at the Abbey, the last few weeks we have been focusing on receiving a word for 2014 to guide us and challenge us through the year.

How Community Lectio Divina works:

Each month there will be a passage selected from scripture, poetry, or other sacred texts (sometimes we will engage in some visio and audio divina as well with art and music).

For the year I am choosing an overarching theme of discernment. I feel like the Abbey is in the midst of some wonderful transition, movement, and expansion.

How amazing it would be to discern together the movements of the Spirit at work in the hearts of monks around the world.

I invite you to set aside some time this week to pray with the text below. Here is a handout with a brief overview (feel free to reproduce this handout and share with others as long as you leave in the attribution at the bottom – thank you!)

Lean into silence, pray the text, listen to what shimmers, allow the images and memories to unfold, tend to the invitation, and then sit in stillness.

This is the text for prayer:

A brother came to Scetis to visit Abba Moses and asked him "Father, give me a word." The old man said to him "Go, sit in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything.

After you have prayed with the text (and feel free to pray with it more than once – St. Ignatius wrote about the deep value of repetition in prayer, especially when something feels particularly rich) spend some time journaling what insights arise for you.

How does your prayer resonate with your word for the year?

How is this text calling to your dancing monk heart in this moment of your life?

What does this text have to offer to your discernment journey of listening moment by moment to the invitation from the Holy?

What wisdom emerged that may be just for you, but may also be for the wider community?

Sharing Your Responses

Please share the fruits of your lectio divina practice in the comments below or at our Holy Disorder of Dancing Monks Facebook group which you can join here. There are over 1000 members and it is a wonderful place to find connection and community with others on this path.

You might share the word or phrase that shimmered, the invitation that arose from your prayer, or artwork you created in response. There is something powerful about naming your experience in community and then seeing what threads are woven between all of our responses.

You can see the full winter/spring calendar of invitations here>>

Join the Holy Disorder of Dancing Monks Facebook group here>>

16 Responses to "Community Lectio Divina: Give Me a Word"

  1. rosemarie says:

    This quote brings a raging fire rather than a shimmering! Raging fire of anger… For years I have been harrassed by tickets and warrants in a system I want no part of.
    Two warrants have been again delivered to my door for a calling to the forest in Big Sur and a rebuilding and honoring of our Native peoples. I do not value the over emphasis of judicial system and penal civilization we live in. To sit in one's cell is not to be in prison, but in the exquisite beauty of the cell of the human person and God's creation.
    Why we contemplatives have given witness to grates and bars as a welcome to visitors in our Monasteries is beyond me. The saying reverberates with Golden Light and Golden Drum and dance of the butterfly of my African Monastery and expansive savannah. It bids to dwell in contemplative vision in gratitude and beauty, drum and dance…

  2. Lera says:

    I've spent the last 5 years "sitting in my cell" . My word for this year is "connection", meaning it is time to shift my gaze from inward to outward and connect with others. This reading is a reminder to me that even though it is time to get out into the world, build relationships and connect with others, I cannot neglect the introspective, contemplative path that fuels me. I still need to make time for my "connection" to the divine. I need to save space in my life for quiet and solitude.

  3. Kathleen Jordan says:


  4. Tanda Ainsworth says:

    The word that chose me for 2014 is "Linger". Sitting in my cell invites me to linger, to become more deeply aware of my surroundings. So as I sit inside the cell of self may I learn to be still, to linger moment to moment, and to find God in the lingering. Busyness keeps me distracted. Lingering holds a promise to keep me present.

  5. Rosie Huart says:

    My word for the upcoming year is CHERISH. I want to lovingly care for myself. I will be asking myself, "What would love have me do?"

  6. Jacinta Rice says:

    Once an American Indian found his calling after an arduous journey to the top of a mountain. As he realises his connections far beyond what he had imagined he cries out "I am Centre Everywhere." This is how, while sitting in my cell in the past year when I was housebound for many months with severe sciatica, that I have been taught. For my cell is my mountain and I continue to learn that Centre Everywhere embraces oppressors and victims, those who suffer and those who are healed, those who are afraid and those who are joyful and free as I learn more about forgiveness and compassion for myself as well as others. My cell- my body, spirit, life is Centre Everywhere in God.

  7. Karen Thorpe says:

    My word for the year is auspicious – the time with God is favourable always – even when I am broken, crying, and in pain for this dear world that is in so much trouble – I weep in Christ as he wept for Jerusalem.

  8. anne says:

    I'm late but still wanted to share…my "word" is the Latin phrase "Sic et Non" which is translated as "Yes and No" or perhaps "Yes, And…" I had been praying for my word and was just struck by how Richard Rohr has been using this phrase in his daily emails the last several days, as a way of contemplative practice and open-heartedness. For me, at least for now, "Sic et Non" is calling me to practice forgiveness and compassion with those with whom I am angry. (I am really good at the "Yes, but…" of the activist in me, i.e. "yes, you have good intentions, but your actions are perpetuating racism." This is useful in its place, but unbalanced without the compassion/forgiveness piece, and I am really struggling with that).

    • Stephanie says:

      my word is "yes" and I've been reading Rohr's mediations and realizing how powerful that little and is! thanks for sharing!

  9. JudyLisette Martin says:

    I have a phrase – "and together, we begin again"

    As I'm new to the contemplative life – since last November – beginning again is a daily or sometimes hourly occurrence.
    The constant conversion which is necessary is very different to the meaning of the word when I was an evangelical. Then conversions on meant turning from the past, and asking Jesus into your heart – a one off thing.
    Then I learned that it would be a succession of steps, being baptised in the Holy
    Spirit, using the Gifts of the Spirit, years in and out of the wilderness. The Lord brought me back into a closer relationship with him through illness, then through growing disablement, to where He wants me now, and I praise Him for it. So now, I begin and begin and begin – – – – – – –

  10. My word for this year is "Quiet." I wrote about it on my blog today, which I'm pasting here:

    I read a blog post yesterday in which the author describes his practice of choosing a word as his mantra, his guiding principle, for the year. Actually, I think he explains that his word chooses him. My first thought was, “I want a word!” His practice really resonated with me.

    At first, I thought my word was Authenticity, and I latched on to it. For it’s true–authenticity is important to me. It’s something I long for. However, another word kept rising, shimmering, beckoning. I even woke several times during the night to find it waiting for me, seeking acknowledgement.

    The word? Quiet. While authenticity is a worthy goal, some inner wisdom is telling me that Quiet is a practice I need to cultivate this year, a practice that will ultimately lead to a Life of greater authenticity.

    I want to be quiet in heart, in soul, and spirit. I want to be quiet in body and mind. I want to be quiet in practice, in manner, in all my ways of being. I want to schedule quietness, to grab moments of quietness, to steal quietness from the busy cacophony of life.

    When I woke this morning a scripture rose in my mind: In your quietness, possess ye your souls. Only after I’d meditated on it for a while did I realize that I had changed a word. The verse doesn’t say “quietness.” It says “patience.” But isn’t patience a quiet waiting? a peaceful abiding? a trustful silence?

    I thought about Elijah’s experience of the Divine. First came the mighty wind, then a tremendous earthquake, and finally a roaring fire, but Elijah could not hear the Holy One in the midst of such deafening displays. Only in the quiet could the small still voice of God be heard.

    God has stormed through my life like a mighty wind, displacing and rearranging. I have encountered the earthquake, and the ground has broken open around my feet, destroying old and forming new landscapes. I have walked through purging and, I hope, purifying fire. Perhaps these upheavals were all necessary to bring me to a place of Quiet, so that I can hear.

    I believe Quiet will be a place of great freedom. Freedom to think without having to speak; freedom to listen. Freedom to experience God apart from logic and academic theologies. Freedom to rest and to trust. Freedom simply to be and be led.

    May I accept the gift and freedom of Quiet.

  11. Shannon Denner says:

    My word for the year 2014 is: Unique.

  12. […] began this month with a Community Lectio Divina practice where you were invited to pray with one of the stories of the desert fathers and mothers […]

  13. Stephanie says:

    The word that chose me is "Yes." Yes feels like a word of promise and adventure. A word of new beginnings and exciting never-before's. These are things I long to say Yes to!

    But this lectio reminds me to live into the Yes of the ordinary rhythms of my days and weeks and months and years. Unfulfilled dreams and broken plans have led to a type of familiarity that can feel, at times, like a cell–the change and newness I sought to bring about never came to fruition. So here I am…still. Yet in this "cell" I can learn everything. Yes. Here, as I am where I am the Divine is calling to me. My adventure is the Yes of each ordinary moment.

  14. Gabe says:

    Go. Sit.

    My word is "Follow me." The thing about following is that you act when prompted and rest when not. Or perhaps you rest when prompted to rest. When the Spirit moves me, I should move, like leaves blown by the wind. When the Spirit does not move me, I should await it. I should sit. In sitting I can learn to recognize the Spirit's prompts. To sit in my cell is to sit with my thoughts. To let them develop in a way that insights can be gained. My cell, largely, is my journal.

    "Go. Sit. In your cell. Be with yourself. Know yourself. Do that, and you will know how to follow when you're called upon. Know your experiences, and you'll learn where to find God in them. Know your longing, and you will know how to follow the longings given by God."

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