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Silence as a Door to Reverence:
A CinemaDivina Prayer Offering

The theme for September here at the Abbey is silence based on the first principle of the Monk Manifesto: “I commit to finding moments each day for silence and solitude, to make space for another voice to be heard, and to resist a culture of noise and constant stimulation.”  (Please consider stopping by to sign the Monk Manifesto as a statement of your own commitment).

You can read more about silence here and here and see the wondrous Photo Party (and the visual meditation) and Poetry Party celebrating the gifts of silence.  My latest column at Patheos also explores Silence as the Union of Opposites.

At Abbey of the Arts, I am blessed beyond measure to have many monks and artists as companions and friends.

I am so pleased to introduce Marilyn Freeman who is a filmmaker in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. whom I first met at St. Placid Priory in Lacey, WA, where I am a Benedictine oblate, and Marilyn is now an oblate candidate.  She has a true monastic heart and she brings it to a beautiful spiritual practice she calls CinemaDivina. Rooted in the contemplative prayer and listening of lectio divina, CinemaDivina draws on film as sacred text, as a way to hear the sacred shimmering in this world.

She describes it herself this way:

CinemaDivina is an emerging body of contemplative video essays and a contemplative way of screening the films.

CinemaDivina films are short pieces created to help foster contemplation.  Each film is created through the prayerful practice of lectio divina.  CinemaDivina translates the ancient spiritual practice lectio divina to a filmic paradigm.  Viewing CinemaDivina films within this contemplative screening practice may be especially beneficial, many have found it to be a process that opens hearts, engages imagination, inspires insights, and awakens the sacred in our lives.

Artist Marilyn Freeman creates CinemaDivina works in the context of a Benedictine Monastery – St. Placid Priory and Spirituality Center where she is an oblate candidate. In particular, Sisters Lucy Wynkoop and Mary Giles have provided extraordinary guidance and support. Sr. Wynkoop is co-author along with Christine Valters Paintner of Lectio Divina: Contemplative Awakening and Awareness, published by Paulist Press.

I am beyond grateful to Marilyn for her willingness to share her work with this community as a regular feature for these coming months.  This month is her reflection on Reverence which is the doorway that silence opens to us – when we enter a place of deep stillness, our hearts are given over to this sense of reverence, of the sacredness of all things.

Pour some tea, close the door, turn off your phone and email notification.  Breathe deeply, put your hand on your heart, and give yourself over to three minutes of reflection and see if you can touch reverence right here in this moment.


Click here to view Reverence at Vimeo

After being with the film, sit in silence for another three minutes, just letting the words and images cascade through your awareness gently, holding tightly to nothing.  Then let even these go and give yourself over to the gift of stillness for just this moment now.  Breathe.

~ the literary text ~

I never used to used to use a phrase like bow down…
Until standing in the marsh grasses of the Willapa Bay
A flock of birds flew over my head
And they were so near to me I could hear their wings

I felt the wind they made

They’d crossed the peninsula from the ocean beach
I heard them in the distance, first,
A sound I couldn’t name
I don’t know how many
It seemed like hundreds
Flying so hard
So near to me, I heard their wings

I felt the wind of them

Standing in the marsh grasses, I know I cried
But it wasn’t just crying
It was weeping
What’s the difference, I wonder?
I’m really not certain, I’m only sure that it’s humbling,
That mystery, that difference
Between crying and weeping

In the marsh of the Willapa Bay
I drop to my knees
I bow down,
In Los Angeles, at the Getty, with Stephanie and Annalea
I bow down
On Debe’s porch with all of us
At my mother’s bedside

I bow down
I bow down
In awe
In wonder
In reverence
I bow down

–By Marilyn Freeman, 2008

Description: Reverence

Length 3:25 minutes

Set at the Willapa Bay in Washington State, Reverence—a meditation on the word “reverence”—is a selection from CinemaDivina, contemplative video essays created especially for lectio divina practice. Originally created for the closing ritual of a yearlong spiritual development program entitled, Transforming Fire: Christian Spirituality & Prayer, Reverence was first screened in a lectio context led by Sister Mary Giles Mailhot at St. Placid Spirituality Center on May 20, 2008.

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6 Responses

  1. Very Reverent and prayerful, the words and images together were perfectly woven. Thank you for such beauty in poetry and nature……I bow down..

  2. This video is a lovely meditation on reverence. I loved the gently waving reeds and Marilyn’s quiet voice speaking. Wonderfully relaxing meditation. Thank you!

  3. Beautiful. And food for thought for me – I have longed to find ways to put my words and images together, perhaps there are slower, stiller ways available than I had allowed for.