Yesterday at my formation meeting at the priory, we learned about and practiced lectio divina. Our formation director gave us a nice little pamphlet based on the article, “Accepting the Embrace of God: the Ancient Art of Lectio Divina” by Fr. Luke Dysinger, OSB. We practiced as a group, using the Gospel reading of the day.
It was a very interesting experience! It turned out that each of us focused on a different aspect of the passage, and each of us came up with very interesting insights and ways in which the reading relates to our lives. Each of us was coming from a unique perspective and unique circumstances, but I think we all were able to identify with and understand each other.
I thought that I would try it on my own each day, using one of the daily readings set forth by the Church. Since lectio divina is about hearing God’s voice, I figured the Gospel readings would probably be most appropriate. So I pulled up the Gospel for today. I read it through once and was like, “Hmmm. Nothing is really jumping out at me.” But then I just quieted my mind and read it again, slowly, out loud. I felt attracted to the quotation from Isaiah:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.
I slowly began to “ruminate” on this brief passage and to think about what it communicates about the Lord. I just let it soak in for a good long while. I sort of formed some mental images in my mind: Christ the Savior, Christ the prophet, Christ the merciful, Christ who has acted time and time again in my personal life. And I just filled with tremendous awe and praise for Him.
Above all what came to me is that I am to imitate Christ. By my baptism, I too am to be a prophet, a person who acts in service and in mercy to others. And I have to tell you, that hit me pretty hard, and honestly it was a bit unnerving. I started saying to God, “Lord, I want to be more like You and imitate Your deeds. But Lord, I am such a weak person! I’m timid and clumsy and don’t speak well. I have trouble reaching out to people. I just don’t know what I can do!” And I felt tears come to my eyes… I just felt so laid bare… I felt so small… I felt like a big disappointment.
And then something really amazing happened. Suddenly, words just left me. I had things I wanted to say, but words just evaporated. And I allowed them to go and allowed myself to fall silent. And I felt a rather powerful sensation in the region of my heart. Not really a physical sensation, but a very warm, encompassing, fulfilling sensation. I felt as if all the weak spots and all the gaps within me were being filled up and made solid… all the rough, unfinished edges were being made clean and smooth. I just sort of let myself go and enjoy the feeling–it was quite pleasing, and very comforting.
I felt that I was not alone, and that I wasn’t so weak any more. I felt His presence within me and all around me. I felt like a little infant cradled in His arm, and His warmth and strength and love penetrated straight into my very center. And I didn’t think anything or say anything. I just rested and took delight in being with Him.
Gradually, I sort of came back into the world, and my mind and voice started working again. All I wanted to say was, “Thank You, Lord, thank You so much! I love You so much, and I never want to be separated from You!”
And then I was like, “Oh my gosh, that was awesome, I have to write it down!” So, here I am. And I just feel so… fresh and renewed and invigorated! I am actually looking forward to getting to work tomorrow and just pouring myself into every little thing! Maybe that is where I need to start for now: just doing the ordinary, everyday things of my life with greater love and dedication. I have to admit that I’ve been feeling pretty burned out… but maybe starting right now that will cease to be the case!
I can say one thing: I am definitely going to keep practicing lectio divina. And I think I’m going to keep a journal about it.