The Spiritual Practice of Lectio Divina

We are almost a month into our look at spiritual practices in our worship and our religious education classes. I thought I’d share my own practices with you, in particular a new one that I’ve been exploring with my spiritual director.

I have engaged in sitting meditation for over 20 years and consider making music, cooking and gardening all as part of my spiritual practices. However, I had reached a place of ‘stuckness’, hopelessness, and loss of faith. I’m sure part of it is related to the deep work I, and we, are doing as a denomination around patriarchy and white supremacy and dismantling systems of oppression, and still some is related to the state of US and global politics. That being said, I can’t stay stuck — not if I am going to be a leader for your faith development or feel wholly myself, for that matter.

In another article I mentioned the Wellspring program I’ve been involved in this year and as it draws to a close, I have already registered to participate online again next year. As I’ve been involved, I’ve sampled some new spiritual practices, and one in particular has stuck with me and helped me get unstuck–Lectio Divina!

In Christianity, the method of Lectio Divina includes moments of reading (lectio), reflecting on (meditatio), responding to (oratio) and resting in (contemplatio) the Word of God with the aim of nourishing and deepening one’s relationship with the Divine. For me as a Unitarian Universalist, the sources of reflection are more than Christian scripture. They can be any source that holds meaning.

In practice, I read a poem aloud (sometimes just opening a book to whatever page it falls on) and then look for the lines that resonate or call to me. I spend some time reflecting on why that might be and when I’m in a spiritual direction session, we talk through it. The next step is to then look for the line in the poem that is the most unsettling, or the words that are hard and why. This isn’t an intellectual exercise. It is a heart exercise, grounded in my emotional/spiritual response to the reading.

If you’ve never experienced this practice before, I encourage you to try it. Your reading doesn’t have to be centered in God language, but you may find it interesting to look at some of the religious words you have trouble with and dig into why. I know for me — who thought I’d come to terms with all those religious words — this practice has expanded my already different definitions of words like God, the Divine, sin, goodness…

And if your interested in what I’m working through right now, I offer you this poem by Hafiz:

God and I have become like two giant

fat people living in a tiny boat.

We keep bumping into each other and

Laughing.

See you on Sunday!

Carrie Krause, DLFD

 

About Khwāja Shams-ud-Dīn Muḥammad Ḥāfeẓ-e Shīrāzī, known by his pen name Hafez and as “Hafiz”:  Hafiz, a Sufi poet, expressed in poetry love for the divine, and the intoxicating oneness of union with it.  Hafiz, along with many Sufi masters, uses wine as the symbol for love. The intoxication that results from both is why it is such a fitting comparison. Hafiz spoke out about the hypocrisy and deceit that exists in society, and was more outspoken in pointing this out than many poets similar to him.