As with The Artist’s Rule: Nurturing your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom, reviewed on StoryCircleBookReviews, I savoured Christine Valters Paintner’s Lectio Divina as my morning reading practice.
Lectio divina essentially means “divine reading” of sacred texts, during which we “enter into an encounter with God.” While the ancient practice has its roots in Judaism, Valters Paintner refers to the scriptures of different religious traditions, including Hebrew, Christian and the Qur’an, throughout the book. There are many passages from which to choose for your own practice.
Paintner invites an exploration of lectio divina in Part One of the book. “Listen with the ear of our heart” is the central movement of lectio divina and one of the rules of St. Benedict. His wisdom is very valuable to life in the twenty-first century when we would be well-advised to move mindfully through our days, remembering everything, objects and people, as sacred.
In Part Two, the four movements of Lectio Divina are fully described, chapter by chapter. They are—Lectio’s Call to Awaken to the Divine, Meditatio’s Welcoming with All Senses, Hearing Oratio’s Call of the Spirit, and Resting in Contemplatio’s Stillness and Silence.
Each of the four movements is a “process of contemplative unfolding” for which the author has her own terms: shimmering; savoring and stirring; summoning and serving; and slowing and stilling. She has done so well in organizing the information of a practice that is not meant to be linear, and in creating examples for contemplation that are inviting and peaceful.
I particularly enjoyed the beautiful writing of the author’s “Invitation to Practice” in Chapter Five, “Listening for God’s Voice.” It is a reminder of a ritual such as lighting a candle to help signify something holy. The words of gentle advice are from someone of our own time who also has a busy life during which she makes the time for contemplative prayer.