With March comes a new invitation for contemplation. As Lent begins this month (on March 5th – join our online retreat here.) I invite you into a lectio divina practice with words from the first reading for Ash Wednesday from the prophet Joel.
How Community Lectio Divina works:
Each month there will be a passage selected from scripture, poetry, or other sacred texts (and occasionally 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.
Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.. —Joel 2:12-13
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 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 (at the bottom of the page) or at our Holy Disorder of Dancing Monks Facebook group which you can join here. There are over 1300 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 2014 calendar of invitations here>>
Join the Holy Disorder of Dancing Monks Facebook group here>>
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“Return to me with your whole heart,” that is what shimmers for me. I see a child running into the folds of her mother’s robes, running wholeheartedly, begin swallowed up in the certainty of motherly love. There is no hesitation, there is certainty.
Today I took a walk in a warm downpour, let myself be soaked in rain, soaked in God. The thoughts on my mind were about a complete commitment to Love, withholding nothing. I have always had fear of being that transparent, that vulnerable. There are wounds and scar tissue and bags full of regret and trepidation, and God does not come to me as a mother, but stands there looking at me through the eyes of another who is also wounded, fearful. He waits. God, why are you wrapped in such an uncertain, unpredictable package? How can I trust this, how can I be certain? I realize that certainty cannot be in the outcome of this encounter, but in the total commitment to entering fully into Love, no matter what the outcome. We cannot wait until we are “safe” to love. We must run into the folds of God with complete abandon…now.
I am taking Brene Brown’s course, The Gifts of Imperfection: Your Guide to a Wholehearted Life. I spent a good deal of part 1 wondering what it means to be “wholehearted.” And today I begin Lent confronted with this exhortation: Return to me with your whole heart. Yet in today’s psalm (51), “a broken and contrite heart you will not despise,” a “secret heart,” a “clean heart.” Perhaps my task in these 40 days is to fully open this broken heart, letting God cleanse and heal its secret places. Then I will not return “with” my whole heart, but I will return my whole heart to God.
Blessings in your soft heart.
What beautiful insights on this page. I have just discovered Abbey of the Arts and feel like i am in a current state of continual nourishment through its many openings to spirital reflections. I guess the word is portals?
No matter how long or what has happened, God is waiting for my return. To be still, to trust Him, to let go, to wait in vulnerability and brokenheartedness, and to know that God loves me and that all will be well. I will be well. God WILL heal me, gently and incrementally and in ways that I can bear without fear. I need do nothing but BE in God’s love.
“Even now” .. I barely got into the reading until I was grabbed. Captured by words that said to my spirit: “Even now,” after all this time – after everything that’s happened – and lost – and gained again …”Even now” I’m still with you. The same God, the same Spirit, the same Mother. Right here beside you ..even now.
Amen. I was also amazed by the first line and how it opened up relief that it is never too late. Thank you for your post.
Recently I’ve been confronting some old shadows, reclaiming parts of my past that I’ve only come to realise and could only feel it now that my heart has been broken. While at the same time I know this is another dimension of living into the fullness of now. Bringing my past into the present and allowing the present to deepen my presence in what’s past. This experience made me realise how broken and empty my past has brought me to where I am now. It’s as if I couldn’t feel my heart here with me, my heart is fasting from feeling the pain and hurt, silently weeping and mourning for what’s lost. Yet I also know this is a process that God is taking me through to restore the wholeness of my heart. I would have imagined it to be a content and joyous process, but reality is quite the contrary.
Cecilia, your post resonates with me. I’m weeping and mourning past wounds in my own life right now. It is a painful process. Two phrases shimmered for me. “Return” and “whole heart”. I remembered a time (long ago) when this wound wasn’t present. When I lived whole heartedly. The message I receive is that I can return to whole heartedness. That by walking through the weeping,the mourning, the broken, rended heartedness, I can find that wholeness again, where my broken heart is held together by God, made larger and more open by its woundedness. May it be so for you, as well.
Rend your hearts in weeping and mourning and return to the Lord, your God. Ashes
to the sea…to the ocean mother…to be reborn…to the sign of Jonah…the belly of a whale…to the leap heavenward…symbol of rising to newness…to surrender to the Mystery of death…to the Light that shines when deep waters cannot quench love…and the season of Easter dawns
These words were so strong today. Even now return is what jumped out to me..I can and must return to God in the now…this and every moment.
This is in response to the Joel text, “return to me with your whole heart,” posted March 2. I just this week met with my priest to discuss how hard it is to worship when life is so difficult for my whole family (diseases, mental disorders, finances, cars, sewers,…) I confessed to my priest that I’m not sure I believe anymore. He said to take hold of the hands of my friends in our church community, hold on tight, and let them believe for me, until I get through this rough time. He also invited me to join the centering prayer group…and that I can sit by the door.
Synchronistically, a dear friend directed me to this blog. Of course, this morning’s text was quite timely for me. Rather amazing.
Your priest’s insights are so powerful. Allow the community to believe for you. I believe for you. Centering prayer helps get me to the silent space where I can get energized to deal with life. Try it. Just sit and observe yourself – your thoughts, emotions,etc without trying to change anything. Whatever arises arises. Watch and learn. It may be hard at first. Start slow, a few minutes but persevere and see what happens!
Say over and over whenever the need arises, “Lord, I believe, please help my unbelief” and then relax. The Lord has heard your prayer. Others have given you wonderful advice and your faith is there or you would not have been able to put your thoughts into words. Trust!
“Synchronistically, a dear friend directed me to this blog. Of course, this morning’s text was quite timely for me. Rather amazing.”
Yes! Everything you need is in this moment of your living as you watch, wait, listen and respond. Hmmm! Is that worship? I give thanks for your sharing.