We are returning this month to our weekly invitations to community contemplation and creativity. The season of Lent begins next Wednesday, so we invite you into a lectio divina practice with the words from the first reading for Ash Wednesday from the prophet Joel:
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
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).
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. The text for prayer is above.
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 4000 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.
*Note: If this is your first time posting, or includes a link, your comment will need to be moderated before it appears. This is to prevent spam and should be approved within 24 hours.
The phrases “your whole heart” and “Rend your hearts” took on a new meaning to me: My heart could be the center of my life, and in that sense my brain seems to me to be a part of my life’s center as well. So my reflection sent me to the place of considering my “whole life — my heart and mind and soul and strength.” So “return to me with your ‘whole self’.” And we don’t rend just our outer selves (“our garments”); we rend our whole selves in seeking for the truth of our lives and of the world.
“Even now” was the phrase that spoke to me as well last week. It reminded me that it is never too late to begin or pick up or recognize an important thought or action or belief. It also gave me a sense of vigor and call to action — stepping out to meet my challenges.
“Even now…return to the LORD, your God.” Even now is perhaps the most striking phrase here. Even now…after you have tried and failed, after you have sinned, after you have betrayed, after you have given in to self-love or self-hatred, and crowded out the voice and love of God. Even now…I am pleading with you to return to me, with your whole heart, your entire heart, broken open to receive me. Even now…a picture of God’s great mercy and restoration. Even now…
am I willing to die, gently wrapped in the cocoon heart of God, even knowing that transformation awaits? I am tired, but desire this journey…
“Return” was the word that spoke to me. It sent me into the day with new hope and vigor.
Return to me…..and return. This feels like a cycle spiraling upward toward God’s loving arms. I approach Ash Wednesday with weeping and mourning for dear ones lost, and for what I have done and what I have left undone. But I also approach it with joy because it is the beginning of the beginning. My foot, laid down on my Road Home.
“Rend your hearts and not your garments” I feel as though my heart is torn every day as I hear more of the trauma and tragedy of the growing tide of refugees. Such a helpless feeling. I recall hearing or reading “Let what breaks God’s heart break your heart”. In some small strange way I pray that my wrenching sadness for others may mysteriously raise the tide of love in this world.
This was my experience also. I think that suffering shared , even at a distance, does raise the level of love and connection in the world. And our compassion towards others changes us over time, so we see how we may ease their suffering, or stop contributing to it in unexamined ways.
Rend…tear in two…rip out…all descriptions of a mourning
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