With autumn we return to a fuller rhythm here at the Abbey blog after the quieter time of summer. I know many of you will welcome the Poetry and Photo Parties back. In addition, we are adding in an invitation to practice lectio divina as a community and there will also be a Dance Party at the end of the month to nourish all my dancing monks.
How Community Lectio Divina works:
Each month there will be a passage selected from scripture or poetry (and at some point 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. I have included an audio guided meditation for those of you who prefer to be led through the experience of lectio. It is just below the scripture text.
If you prefer to pray on your own, here is a handout with a brief overview (feel free to reproduce this handout 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.
I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. I am the Lord, that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to idols. See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them. Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the end of the earth! Let the sea roar and all that fills it, the coastlands and their inhabitants.
—Isaiah 42:6-10 (NRSV)
Listen to a guided lectio divina: [audio:http://www.mediafire.com/download/e2vwk4nm7wnj11h/Sept_2013_Isaiah_42_6-10_Community_Lectio_Practice.mp3]
(or you can download the file here to listen on an mp3 player)
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 is this text calling to your dancing monk heart in this moment of your life?
What wisdom emerged that may be just for you, but may also be for the wider community?
Creative Response to Prayer
I find lectio divina to be such a rich way to engage my heart and my imagination, and it can be a powerful way to lead into art-making, poem-writing, or movement. Feel free to go in any direction with this you feel led.
I will offer a suggestion each month. For this first month's practice, I suggest going on a photo pilgrimage following your lectio practice (in the hours or days following).
Begin by spending a few moments centering and breathing. Call your word or phrase that shimmered to mind and repeat it gently to yourself like a mantra. Then begin your walk with your camera. It can be just in your backyard or around the block.
Softening your gaze and holding this word, move out into the world without agenda, only simply noticing what arises, what shimmers in the world around you. Is there perhaps an image which offers you another way of experiencing the word from your prayer?
See if you can release your desire to do this a certain way or find a certain image. Allow yourself to receive what comes, even if that is just ten minutes of quiet, attentive walking.
Sharing Your Responses
Please share the fruits of your lectio divina practice and/or your creative response either in the comments below or at our Holy Disorder of Dancing Monks Facebook group which you can join here. Photos can be included in both places.
You might share the word or phrase that shimmered, the invitation that arose from your prayer, or a photo you received in response. There is something powerful about naming your experience in community and then seeing what threads are woven between all of our responses.