Friday, August 19, 2011

Lectio Divina

Thursday morning, I drove over to a neighboring parish to participate in Lectio Divina for the first time. 

I don't know why I haven't done it before.  In the  back of my mind, I knew that the pastor hosted a Lectio group for a few years.  And for at least a few years, I've wanted to learn more about divine reading.

I've collected information.  I've ordered books.  I've talked to people about it.  I've imagined it.  I had a teacher from the Benedictine Center in St. Paul come to do adult forums twice at my church.  But I was never able to attend them, because we have a worship service at the same time.  I also get all of the update from St. Paul's Monastery and dream about doing a retreat or a class.

But until Thursday, I've never participated in Lectio Divina.

There were just six of us, sitting in a circle, with a lit candle, the gospel of Matthew, and a set of chimes.  We prayed.  We read and listened for what emerged for each of us, each saying a few words.  We read again and listened with imagination.  We read a third time for prayer.  There wa also twenty minute of Centering Prayer, another thing I have never participated in before.

I won't say that the silence was always easy, or that I never felt my mind wander.  I became acutely aware, in the silence, of how I am always racing ahead, always making lists in my mind, always thinking about what I should do next, who I should call next, trying to solve problems in my mind. 

We read Matthew 16, Peter's confession, and I heard the phrase "book-learning" and the words "Flesh and blood did not reveal this to you."  I imagined the dusty road where Jesus turned to his disciples and asked, "But who do you say that I am?" and thought I heard in his voice the vulnerability of someone who was not sure what the answer would be.  I felt the hardness of Rock, and the keys of the kingdom, the keys that open the door to wide mercy and love and grace.  I heard other prayers and other insights in small phrases that washed over me.

For a moment, I thought I ought to preach on the gospel instead of Romans 12 (my plan), and then I thought again.

Every time I read scripture, it does not need to be in preparation for a sermon.

It's good to carve out a space to hear God, to listen for God's voice, without so many pre-conceived ideas about what God will say.  It's good to remember that my life is not just about the lists I make, the things I do, or try to do, the problems I solve, or try to solve, or fail to solve.

On Thursday, I felt the keys to the kingdom when I entered the circle and and just listened and heard a story from Matthew's gospel.

I'll go again.


Fran said...

I'm so glad that you went! I have not been to a Lectio group in awhile, but I have been familiar with this practice and been in groups off and on for 20 years. I have had times of using this practice on my own as well.

Deep into the silence... Of course our minds, and our hearts wander, but we always come back to the Center.

Ivy said...

Thank you for sharing. I have done lectio on my own and in groups. It is such a challenge to look at a text and not think about preaching, but to just hear. At seminary we have lectio 3 mornings a week, each time with a different reading for the coming Sunday. And it's usually a very small group like your experienced.

Blessings, Diane.