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>>


  1. 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."

  2. 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.

  3. says

    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.


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