Retreat and Lectio

Retreat and Lectio August 18, 2008

I am not sure what effect, if any,
our online retreat from last week had on anyone else, but it frankly has had rather a powerful effect on me, most particularly the “3 PM Wonder Hours” of which Gerard Vanderleun’s “Frame Up” was the clear highlight, and if you missed it I urge you to read it. For me it brought the whole retreat together and helped me to understand that perfection is a natural state, and that we so often skew the trajectories of our lives by fighting the landing. On some level I “knew” that before, but on the retreat it really hit home.

Now, everything is different for me. I don’t know what to do with the blog, now – I feel like carrying on about politics is simply not where I’m being led…I feel like I’m supposed to be doing something different, not just going back to the same old political/religion thing. It feels like I’ve been standing in very bright light, and have come back into the house to find that the ordinary things – the politics and such – are simply cast in shadows and both invisible and uninteresting to me.

I mean, really, do I care what Keith Olbermann is shrieking? No. Do I care about anything Nancy Pelosi is saying right now? No. Do I care, really care, what new battle is being fomented and engaged in between teh feuding right and left, when I know – when I have always known, but had forgotten – that so much of it is illusory and the rest of it is as meaningful as a passing storm?

So, I don’t know when or if the blog will be returning to politics, or if it will return to it but differently. This feels like transitioning nudge from the Holy Spirit…but I don’t know yet, into what!

Not only am I disinclined to step back into my old blogging habits of too-much-everything, especially-politics, but I am thinking I need to go on a retreat away from the house and the computer, altogether. I’m thinking of heading to this retreat house, run by the Sisters of Life, come perhaps October. Although, I am also looking for an icon-writing retreat, so…who knows where I’ll end up.

Meanwhile, I’ve come to like this newish blog by the Benedictine Monks of St. Vincent’s Archabbey in Latrobe, PA, and encourage you – if you are looking to make your spiritual reading more meaningful, to read this very interesting and inspiring post on the practice of Lectio Divina (or, “holy reading”). An excerpt:

The usual starting point is a text of Sacred Scripture. The approach to the biblical text in lectio divina presupposes faith that God is sacramentally present in the text to speak in a personal way. If one can say “Thanks be to God” to the affirmation “This is the Word of God,” one can do lectio divina. More broadly, in terms of experiencing any moment of creation, if one can say, “It is the Lord,” one can do lectio divina. The assent of faith makes the difference between reading a letter received from a loved one, and reading the same letter by someone to whom the letter is not addressed.

The structure of lectio divina is simple: lectio, meditatio, oratio, contemplatio. The order, much like Gadamer’s levels of knowledge, should be imagined as circular, not as a linear, chronological progression. One may begin anywhere…perhaps the gift of experiencing the divine presence in a moment of silence may begin a lifetime of study and prayer. One aspect may predominate during one period of life, less so in another. To pray, whatever the way, is always a divine gift.

Perhaps I will do a Vespers Podcast tonight.

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