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Community Lectio (Visio) Divina: St. Francis Dancing Monk Icon


Artwork: “St. Francis Dancing Monk Icon” © artist Marcy Hall at Rabbit Room Arts

With May comes a new invitation for contemplation. This month I invite you into a visio divina practice, which is an adaptation of lectio divina. In visio divina we are invited to see with the eyes of our heart, much in the way lectio calls us to listen with the ears of our heart.

Francis of Assisi is our newest icon in the dancing monk series (which has included other notables so far such as Hildegard of Bingen, Benedict of Nursia, Brigid of Kildare, Brendan the Navigator, and Mary, Mother of God).  I thought it would be lovely to invite you into prayer with this image and see what is evoked. Read on for more details.

How Community Lectio (and Visio) Divinaworks:

button-lectioEach month there will be a passage selected from scripture, poetry, or other sacred texts (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. Here is a Visio Divina handout (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 with the image, look for what shimmers, allow the images and memories to unfold, tend to the invitation, and then sit in stillness.

After you have prayed with the image (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 image calling to your dancing monk heart in this moment of your life?

What does this image 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 visio divina practice in the comments below or at our Holy Disorder of Dancing Monks Facebook group which you can join here. There are over 1700 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.

Join the Holy Disorder of Dancing Monks Facebook group here>>

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11 Responses

  1. I had been enjoying the morning sunlight coming through these flowers for several days on my walks. I sit and meditate in this spot with the light behind me. I finally remembered to take my camera to capture this “secret garden” growing by itself. It reminds me that God is always there tending to me even when I don’t see it/

  2. This is not one of my most favorite pictures of St Francis. He is not smiling as I often am not smiling when running from noise of construction! In fact I lost my glasses because on three corners someone was breaking up cement with agonizing reverberations. So I run… not dance… until I get out of it. He is also holding a cat…which I have been for many too many years!
    This poem is “in flight”…

    Red bells ring in the forest glen
    Calling to expansive hearing song
    Away from dissonance of village machines
    And just as I was settling into prayer infinity
    Leave silk orange prayer shawl and overturned zen bench
    Flee the slicing of blades of grass and rotor rooting of soil and cement
    Freedom reigns here in the forest of untouched gardening
    Just me and the bird song and irridescent wings
    I have knowledge of His Voice in the Morning rise

    The Forest Sings

    Whrrr ooooh ahhhhh
    It dances…sways from tree arm to tip top
    It becomes an ocean song
    A wave breaking
    The Divine Mother’s caress and lullaby
    In chirping gentle melodies
    Give me your hurt and your pain
    Life is always calling forth forgiveness
    I lift up my hurt and smile
    Divine Mother kisses it away in the wind
    eeeeeh whirrrr ahhhhh om
    Blossoms green, red, purple and bark
    Splash in waves across incoming clouds
    Mulungu…Rain…pitter patters tears
    Will you shine a rainbow
    A hug between heaven and earth
    pa ra pa pa pum whrrrr ah om

  3. What a gift to have the entire world as my monastery — I “feel” this picture – I smile inside and jump with excitment – I want to leave the “to-do” lists and enjoy what has been so freely offered – to dance with abandon – to swoop up all that has been offered – to give thanks – to rejoice – and know that all is well in that moment – This painting invokes a deep desire within me – and a unending well of gratitude and joy –

  4. being a third order Franciscan-this piece of art is beautiful. years ago ,while living in Atlanta, GA, I belonged to a movement therapy group. we put on plays in the neighborhood at the local theatre. Seeing this dancing monk excites me and makes me think of those times. My prayer is that others will see the opportunity it portrays and encourages them to tap into their dancing monk!!

  5. At first glance, the image seems to represents chaos ..scattered efforts, all with good intentions however leaving the “church building” incomplete – scaffolding standing ready for its expected completion. Distractions prevent the work – building the church – to be completed properly …OR … instead, I look at Francis’ face as he deals with real life, creatures that need compassion in the midst of their struggles. Now it becomes clear: “life” IS church.

    I love study. Reading is my passion – sometimes I feel like a sponge that just can’t be filled. Perhaps the reason is that I’m putting too much emphasis on building “myself.” I don’t really like that! However, rather than a scolding, perhaps seeing this as a nudge to simply keep on going – to play my joy and passion forward. Not to stop at the “gathering” …turn the wheat of information into bread to share.

  6. Sylvia, sorry for my slow reply. At some point, when we have a few more done, I would like to have a small book of them printed with prayers and made available to the community.

  7. I am loving these images of dancing figures. Has anyone put together a collection of the ones being posted here on our Dancing Monks FB group? I would like to have them assembled, perhaps with a summary pertaining to each one, so that I can print it out and save them to meditate on each one more fully….perhaps something like a devotional book?

    Currently, my life seems too topsy-turvy to give each image the attention that my spirit feels called to give it. I could make my own personal collection, but perhaps others would also like to have it.

    Blessings to all!