life in the suture zone...

In the earthquake faults between tectonic plates, the suture zone is the in between place where they meet. I find in that a metaphor for the times in which we live... and invite your conversation in the suture zone.

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Location: Bakersfield, CA, United States

... a struggling, but mostly joyful, apprentice of Jesus.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

lectio divina...

Another quick post this morning...

Here is another ancient jewel.

You may never have heard of lectio divina before. Coming from Benedictine practice, it is a very ancient (early last millennium?) method of encountering God through the reading of scripture, usually in community. Translated literally it means “divine reading.” But it does not reflect my heritage’s view that all you have to do with the word of God is to understand the logic of it. Rather, it stems from the belief that God desires to speak to us through his word right now about him, about us, about our lives, about his desires. It is more prayer and meditation in nature than Bible study. It has also been called “the embrace of God.”

The practice is simple...

First there is reading/listening.

Fr. Luke Dysinger of the Order of St. Benedict calls it “deep listening,” akin to what Elisha practiced in the desert – a quiet, humble listening for the still, small voice of God. It is not so much focusing on a long passage, as it is finding a phrase or sentence in which we sense the voice of God to us. Once we have found that, we move to the next step.

Second, comes meditation.

Taking the word into ourselves we ruminate on it, repeating it slowly, savoring it, letting it melt in our hearts and melt our hearts. As a child, when I went fishing with my grandfather, he would often bring along some beef jerky. It was not so plentiful back then. You couldn’t find it at Costco. He bought it at the local butcher shop in South Whittier. He would hand me a small piece and tell me to chew it slowly and get all the flavor out of it. He wasn’t going to give me another piece because I swallowed quickly and missed the lasting sharp flavor of that treasure. So it is with meditation. Intimacy takes time, no matter the lies the television commercials feed us. And I do mean intimacy. All of us carry around baggage, painful moments, broken or strained relationships, illness, rejection, and all sorts of other “stuff” over which God desires to speak his healing and affirming word. It is in meditation that we begin to experience God’s embrace. This takes some transparency and vulnerability before God. The “all together” I-am-in-control mask won’t cut it. Meditation brings us into the next phase.

Third, is praying.

Think of this prayer as more than one-sided conversation. You have begun to listen to God. This is dialogue time. That’s the first part of prayer in lectio divina. Conversation. I have prayed so many prayers in my life that are one-sided, hardly ever giving God a place to speak. Lectio divina is rather about conversation. And that conversational prayer should also lead to the second part of prayer: consecration, consecrating the parts of our lives to God that he has called us to consecrate as we have encountered this intimate embrace. In the words of Dysinger (see above), “we allow our real selves to be touched and changed by the word of God.”

Finally, we spend time contemplating.

This is a time to simply rest in the presence of the One who has spoken to us, called to us, through His word. Dysinger calls it “wordless, quiet rest in the presence of the One who loves us….”

In some ways, this ancient method is foreign to our rush-rush world. People on the suture zone recognize the inability of science and modern religion to fully meet the deepest needs of their hearts. Eastern religions seem to value these same things and there are many who have no concept that Christianity was at its beginning an eastern religion.

Also, though this art can be practiced as individuals – and should be – I believe its value to be even greater in sharing the experience. One can turn the contemplative step into a sharing of what we have heard from God. I have done this with Tones and his wife Zee where all three of us heard the same thing. Might this keep us from making ill-advised decisions about which direction God wants us to go in our churches? Novel concept, listening to God.

For more on this ancient art, check out Dysinger’s article at:

Valyermo

Well, this turned out to be not so quick, eh? Maybe I should slow down? ;-)

Grace and peace,

Owen

4 Comments:

Blogger Tones said...

This is indeed an "ancient jewel". When I have taken the time to practice this, it has been very refreshing to my walk. Thank you Owen for bringing it back up. We aren't reminded to slow down and ruminate often enough.

Tones

8:47 AM  
Anonymous Marshall said...

Owen,

Thank you for this post. It is very helpful, very practical.

I have been reading Mark lately, paying special attention to the words of Jesus as he records them. But last night I turned randomly to Lamentations 4. Wow. (I was about to write "Holy crap.") 4:4b particularly (in The Message) spoke to me. I prayed to be helped to be less self-centered. Gotta go now and donate to The Red Cross... And gotta continue to rest in God's caring presence, available even to raging little self-involved microcosms like me. :)

10:35 AM  
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Wade

11:13 PM  
Anonymous Wade said...

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11:16 PM  

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