Friday, August 12, 2011 — Week of Proper 14, Year One
Florence Nightingale, Nurse, Social Reformer, 1910
Today’s Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, 978)
Psalms 102 (morning) 107:1-32 (evening)
2 Samuel 15:19-37
Acts 21:37 – 22:16
Whenever I read the story of Bartimaeus, something settles deep inside of me. This was the story that I first used when I was taught how to pray the scriptures using the ancient Benedictine method of Lectio Divina. The story has never been the same. From that brief time of prayer has come a rich, luminous connection with the sacred text.
With time and practice, more and more texts have become deeply alive through the practice of Lectio Divina. I am convinced that it is an exquisite way to let the scriptures speak and come alive to us.
There are various ways to describe and teach Lectio. Here’s the method I use. I’m taking this from our St. Paul’s Church web site at this address: http://www.stpaulsfay.org/id272.html
This is not intended as a four-step linear process, but rather as a movement between states of consciousness. Let your practice move naturally back and forth through these moments.
I. Lectio — Reading Deeply
Expand your sense of consciousness and focus your attention. Read one of the scripture passages in such a way to you can hear the words deeply. Let God’s speaking to you through these words. Slowly read, listening deeply. If you get distracted, go back to where you were. Hear what the scripture is saying. As you are reading, listen with your “third ear” and see with your “third eye.” What catches your attention? What causes you to think or to wonder?
II. Meditatio — Thinking Deeply
Take whatever caught your attention from your reading and think deeply and actively about it. Why did this catch my attention? What does it mean? How does it connect to the rest of the scripture and tradition? What did it mean to the first readers/listeners? Why is this important? What is it saying? Think actively and energetically. As you are thinking, listen with your “third ear” and see with your “third eye.” Notice if something moves you. Be aware if you have feelings or emotional content around something.
III. Oratio — The Prayer of the Heart
If you heart is moved or your emotions touched, go with the feelings. Let the emotional content of your thought explode into prayer. Speak to God with your heart. Let your deepest center be drawn into prayer. Offer whatever comes to Christ. Let your love speak. While you are praying, listen with your “third ear” and see with your “third eye.” If your words of love begin to descend into love, let go of words, let go of thoughts, let go of emotions.
IV. Contemplatio — Rest
Fall into love, into the silence, into the dazzling darkness that is beyond thought and feeling. Just be. And even let go of being, into the all. Let God be all. All is God and God is all. Rest.
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As you find your consciousness moving in and out of each of these moments, return to reading or thinking or feeling as seems best to you.
When your time is over, pick a brief passage or thought that may focus the content of your prayer time. Memorize or copy that thought; carry it with you during the day, and recall it from time to time. See how your prayer reveals something about what happens during you day.
If you have time, you might journal a bit about what happened during your prayer.
Try this method of prayer with today’s story of Bartimaeus. See if it doesn’t make the scripture come alive for you.