With April comes a new invitation for contemplation. In the northern hemisphere, spring is slowly arriving with birdsong and blooming. Wherever we live on this beautiful planet, we can tend to the flowering that happens within after a season of fallowness. The outer seasons become a mirror for our inner experience.
I invite you into a lectio divina practice with some words from one of my favorite biblical books: Song of Songs.
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.
For see, the winter is past,
the rains are over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of pruning the vines has come,
and the song of the dove is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines, in bloom, give forth fragrance.
Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one,
and come! —Song of Songs 2:11-13
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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“the rains are over and gone…” and Neruda: “the rain takes off her clothes” don’t so much as shimmer, but jolt me. Here in California we are in the worst drought of our history. I have been doing my rain dance to no avail…the sun shines with mild temperatures as the other side of the country suffers through polar vortex. Fire becomes a threat on the horizon and radiation from Fukushima arrives. As the Easter vigil comes next week we enter into the Great Mystery by which we live and walk with Jesus the way of the cross.
Jeff Carrierra gives us these words:
“Imagine a river that you can jump across, but is wider than your legs can ever stretch. You can get to the other side jumping, but you cannot step across. That means you are going to have to let your back foot leave the bank before your front has touched down on the other. You simply cannot get to the other side unless you pass through at least a moment or two when you have lost contact with the ground.
Mutual awakening invites us to leave the world that we know and enter into a new
world of magnificent possibility. To find our way across we have to be willing to not know, to be confused, to disoriented, and to have things – at least for a time – to stop making sense.
The mystical vision that inspired us to the possibility of profound relatedness was a vision of a new world that we can bring into being together. We are all moved to break free of the world as we know and to join with like minded others in the creation of a new world..”. a new song…a new dance…
For me the click happened where it says “arise”.. It made me think that God was /is ever present in the blossom, bud, unopened leaves, in the bush, in the seed below ground all the time , all through winter waiting for the right time to start His work…
So there is a time for everything and God knows when to start.. We just need to be still and wait and watch Him work….
At first this passage didn’t seem very relevant for, as Graham observed, we are already well into Autumn down here. It highlighted the dissonance I so often feel with respect to the preoccupations of the world around me.
But then comes the last stanza – arise, come. Even in my autumn, I am still the beloved, I am still summoned to arrise and come and to join the dance. My autumn leaves the counterpoint to your budding spring. As I was reminded last week; “If life seems jolly rotten, There’s something you’ve forgotten, and that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing” – even if it is in the rain!
These words remind me of the rejuvenation that happens over this winter period, although the ground grows cold and the leaves on the trees disappear, in the quiet of the season, growth is happening and necessary. Each new day is a reminder of the rejuvenation which happens in our souls, as Jesus brings His mercy new each day. How our souls cry out for Him within the darkness of our beings and He brings to light the new life from within, to spring forth in wonder and awe of Him.
I was so struck with the oneness of our existence on this planet. Here right here in Austin Texas I have found myself just in the last two days talking to my husband of how the sound of doves has woven through our lives, hearing the beauty now and having remembrances of grandmothers and mothers loving the dove sounds. I have pruned vines, I have extolled the first appearance of fig leaves looking like tiny hands turned up to heaven in prayer. I’ve found myself in awe over a small clump of blooming wild onions.
The invitation to come lives in eternity. We are here living the Song of Songs.
Arise my love, my beautiful one. I saw this as the light calling to the seed buried in the dark earth.
The words of Jesus came to my mind as I thought about this passage – that unless a
seed FALLS to the earth and dies, it cannot live. Somehow the darkness of the earth – and by extension, the inexplicable pain in our lives and suffering of the world are
necessary for a higher life to be born.
Here, Downunder, the seasons are of course in reverse. But to reflect on this reminds me that in other places brothers and sisters, experiencing rejuvenation and renewal of the planet’s life while here much of nature is preparing for a long sleep, we have this interconnected of Mother Earth ‘doing her rounds’ – somewhere else on this amazing and wonderful globe the cycle is in its own place, and I am not alone.
Arise…….come……..see. These words shimmer within me in their simplicity,immedacy and directness. ‘See’ is the one whose image lingers – see not just with the outer eye – see the beauty of the earth, the new life of Spring sprouting forth, but also with the inner eye which goes deeper – the inner eye of love and wisdom which sees meaning and mystery beneath the surface. And so my prayer is that tthe inner eye may grow in me or that I may grow in awareness using that inner eye, to the beauty that is, to the love that is, to the wisdom that is – and in seeing to be in awe and grateful to my loving God for this gift of sight. Thanks you Lord Amen
I meant to include this image in my comment, so will try again here.
As I receive these words, and allow them to percolate, and as I observe the blooming and bursting forth of greening and flowering here in Vancouver, the words “in bloom” shimmer for me.
I am led to listen for and reflect on that which is blooming within me at this time of my life … and to listen for where the Beloved is leading me to share that blooming with the community and with the world.
It is indeed a time of discernment … to listen for that invitation which carries the deepest resonance and which stirs joy, love and peace.
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