Oblate Program at Belmont Abbey, NC

An Example of Lectio Divina



The follow is a interesting description of the author's experience with Lectio Divina. It is particularly instructive in how a person's thoughts can often focus on a particular word. He does not write about what this encounter with the word "live" means to him personally. He is really only speaking here of the second step of Lectio, Meditation, and his "ruminating" on the word "live."

In this game my thoughts may alight on a word such as live. I will ponder it with all the care of a jeweler assessing the perfection of a gem. As his eyes work the surface of a stone, so too, do my thoughts caress the outer reality of the word. To live suggests a quality of aliveness, that being is predicated by some energy that we associate with life. I allow my thoughts to sink into this feeling even as I hear the sound of street noise outside my hotel window or my driver flailing his horse into a trot with a whip. I am conscious that no reality exists where the word is lacking; that live exposes something that is replete with spirit. It is a hidden essence, unrevealed perfection lying at the heart of this word. Yet when I break it open, or peer deeper into it as a jeweler might do into a gemstone, I am made aware that other contingencies are at work.

Suddenly, when all the letters are thrown into the air so that they fall to earth in new configurations, I am presented with another set of realities. Live, or aliveness, has rearranged itself in my thoughts to reveal more negative aspects. It becomes vile and, more surreptitiously, evil. This word that offered so much in terms of positive valuations has now shown me its darker side. I am disconcerted. I look out the window at some indecipherable street sign in Arabic and know that I have entered into the living hell of words. This, presumably, is where Anthony found himself whenever he confronted the demons in his cell. The benignity of existence was transformed into its demonic counterpart. He did battle, as I do, no so much with temptations, or the impulse toward diminution, but to his own inability to articulate the divine in himself. This is the real path of satanization. When a man like Anthony wrestles with the devil, he is doing battle with what he cannot express, and so with what he perceives as a nonreality. What he doesn't know is that in the end the Word subsumes spirit.

James Cowan, Desert Father, A Journey in the Wilderness with Saint Anthony (pp 84-85)


Tagged as: , , ,

Comments are closed.