Dear monks, artists, and pilgrims,
During this Jubilee year of sabbatical we are revisiting our Monk Manifesto by moving slowly through the Monk in the World retreat materials together every Sunday. Each week will offer new reflections on the theme and every six weeks will introduce a new principle.
Principle 7. I commit to a lifetime of ongoing conversion and transformation, recognizing that I am always on a journey with both gifts and limitations.
I invite you to pray lectio divina with the following scripture passage:
Do not remember the former things,
or consider the things of old.
I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
First Movement – Lectio: Settling & Shimmering
For now, find a comfortable position where you can remain alert and yet also relax your body. Bring your attention to your breath and allow a few moments to become centered. If you find yourself distracted at any time, gently return to the rhythm of your breath as an anchor for your awareness. Allow yourself to settle into this moment and become fully present.
I will read the line from the Psalms once or twice through slowly and listen for a word that feels significant right now, is capturing your attention even if you don’t know why. Gently repeat this word to yourself in the silence.
Second Movement – Meditatio: Savoring & Stirring
Read the text again and then allow the word or phrase which caught your attention in the first movement to spark your imagination. Savor the word or phrase with all of your senses, notice what smells, sounds, tastes, sights, and feelings are evoked. Then listen for what images, feelings, and memories are stirring, welcoming them in, and then savoring and resting into this experience.
Third Movement – Oratio: Summoning & Serving
Read the text a third time and then listen for an invitation rising up from your experience of prayer so far. Considering the word or phrase and what it has evoked for you in memory, image, or feeling, what is the invitation? This invitation may be a summons toward a new awareness or action.
Fourth Movement – Contemplatio: Slowing & Stilling
Move into a time for simply resting in God and allowing your heart to fill with gratitude for God’s presence in this time of prayer. Slow your thoughts and reflections even further and sink into the experience of stillness. Rest in the presence of God and allow yourself to simply be. Rest here for several minutes. Return to your breath if you find yourself distracted.
Silence also has an integrative function. Lectio divina can stir up a great deal of images and symbols which speak to the new thing being birthed within us. In this fourth movement we recognize the need to step back and simply be with what is happening in us, releasing our desire to be actively working on it, and allow it to ripen slowly. We enter the wisdom of night, the place where we can honor that which is nameless within us, that which is still seed and not blossom. We release all of our thoughts and desires and striving and simply rest in the presence of the One Who Is already there with us in the sacred space of our hearts.
Gently connect with your breath again and slowly bring your awareness back to the room, moving from inner experience to outer experience. Give yourself some time of transition between these moments of contemplative depth and your everyday life. Consider taking a few minutes to journal about what you experienced in your prayer.
With great and growing love,
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE
P.S. I was featured on the Ave Explores podcast this week to talk about “The Soul of the Artist”. Also, St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Arlington, VA is having an online art exhibition in response to the pandemic – here is a collection of poems shared including mine on p. 27 “Always” under the theme of Solace.
Photo © Christine Valters Paintner