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.
You can see the fall calendar of invitations here>>
Join the Holy Disorder of Dancing Monks Facebook group here>>
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.
“Sing to the Lord a new song,” is the part that reached out to me. And for the past two weeks, whenever I have found myself slipping into a moment of sadness or discouragement, dwelling on the past, repeating this has become a gentle and strong reminder of faith. I’ve been able to live more in the moment and enjoy the blessings of my life as it is now. It has also been a reminder that just as we must renew ourselves, we must also work to renew the world we live in. I feel comfort and challenge both in this simple verse, and my life is enriched by having it engraved on my heart, to turn to whenever I need it.
I have been praying Isaiah 42 6-10 for some days now. It continues t speak to me as I chew on the words and the words chew on me. ‘I have given you….’
‘Who am I Lord that I am worthy to be given?’
In prayer and reflection….”You were once a prisoner sitting in the darkness. You were taken by many hands and brought into the light. You are a grounded spirit. I give you as covenant to the people. Continue to do your own work and be of service.”
Thank you Christine for including Lectio Divina. It is by chewing on the Sacred Word that I grow in confidence and wisdom.
Image from my walk at the end of my earth:
I visited my ocean on Thursday morning, breathing in Gift From The Sea and that salt air that purifies my insides. I’d been sitting with Isaiah’s 42:10 (which is unlike me at this stage in my faith journey) and couldn’t let go of the reference to the ocean roaring praise and the coastlands roaring praise. I wanted to reject the command for singing. Having told myself just a few days prior that singing isn’t a necessary discipline, speaking as a self-professed retired worship leader. And yet I, a coastal dweller, am so very drawn to that sea.
My preacher-husband once told me about the sea—that in biblical times it was a place of mystery and danger. It was overwhelming and uncontrollable and full of unconquerable unknowns. Huh. I can name a few mysteries and overwhelming situations in my life. I embraced the sea as a symbol for all my mysteries, a big reservoir of questions. Beautiful. Roaring. Scary. Soothing. Replenishing. Dangerous. Uncontrollable. Rhythmic. Washing. Pulled by the moon. Pushed by the wind. With all those questions.
He had explained to me the significance of Christ’s relationship with the sea. Jesus’ displays of “taming” the sea were incredibly profound, as He demonstrated His dominion over the sea, over the uncontrollable, over the dangerous—mysterious—unknown. He calmed the storms, he told the wind and waves to be still, he walked on freaking water. And he had Peter out there as well.
The only logical jump was to consider the power that God has over my questions. Over my mysteries and vast depths of unknowns.
And from there, the realization that our *sea*—our unconquerable unknown of questions that threaten to swallow faith—is the VERY THING that Isaiah says needs to be doing the praising.
I cannot even contain myself over that.
Your words about the sea are luminous and truly shimmer with me. I can almost smell the salt air and feel that sticky feeling that salty sea air paints on your skin. I looked at your website…your art is lovely.
Thank you Evelyn. I’m honored by your words.
Thank you for speaking straight into my heart what I need to hear at this moment, and for doing it so articulately and honestly.
This is one of my favorite readings and my favorite line is ” see I am doing something new”. For the past year and few months I am adjusting to my new life here in Vermont…and trying to “find myself’ especially in Ministry….so I must trust that “all shall be well” and that God IS “doing something new.
Thank you Christine and dear community.
peace and blessings.