Visio Divina

I now have a clear response for the retirement question
what are you doing these days?

These days
I am having fun with construction paper, a glue stick, and magazine pictures
and I am creating a delightful mess!

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A Grade 7 teacher at our local Catholic School wanted to create a Lenten unit about
prayer
and asked if I would offer her two classes of 25 or so youth
a teaching
on either Lectio Divina or Visio Divina
and I chose
Visio.

Who wouldn’t want to do this with 50 twelve year olds!!???
I am excited
and
I am preparing.

I need to have 50 visuals by Tuesday:
cut, tear, paste
arrange
repeat.

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What is Visio Divina?
You’ve likely heard of Lectio, it’s more popular relative.
These are practices from the early Monastic Movement
now being revived with great enjoyment for a new time.

Lectio is the slow and savoury out-loud-reading of a sacred text or mystical poem
and so the ear hears and ponders
the word or phrase
that arises for attention.
Visio is the contemplative eye-gaze into an artistic expression which might be
classical or modern art, or
a cut and paste collage.

My home-made collages will be placed within a circle on the floor
and students will be asked to choose the one that is calling for their attention.
They will sit with it for a few minutes as questions guide their pondering:

what caught your attention?
is there a surprise here…something you didn’t initially see?
what feeling does this stir within you?
is this art offering you insight / a message?

A circle, a candle, quiet music, a feast for the eyes
and the sharing of what has been revealed
spoken into the circle.

The insight and wisdom of youth.
What a great way to spend a retirement Tuesday!

*** ***** *

Want to try it?

Light a candle
perhaps put on some gentle meditative music
and then gaze into these images:

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what do you see?

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is there a surprise here?

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what do you feel?

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what is being revealed?

*** ***** *

  Visio Divina …

seeing the Divine in the world around us.

 

outer … inner

Whenever my dog Hestia has a grooming day, I enjoy a few chuckles.
Here she is pre-grooming       and        here she is post-grooming.

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Isn’t she sweet?

Different days

different looks

yet inside
the same loving, gentle, playful, faithful, companion dog.

A few months ago while on a retreat
an artist led us in the art of blind-line drawings.
This was an exercise on focus and seeing
and here are two images that were drawn of me.

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IMG_2211         Hahahaha!

In one I appear tight and made-up
perhaps poised for an important meeting.

In the other I look like I’m having
a very scattered day at home.

Outside appearances.
On different days and at different times in the day
and to different people and even to ourselves
we can look different.

Yet, there is more to each one of us
than meets the eye
much, much more!
There is a depth of reality beneath our surface
and this is called
our inner life.

Do you see your inner life?
How well do you know your inner life?

For a long time…for too long a time
I had only a small awareness of my inner life
but with the assistance of
The Enneagram and Archetypes
I have come to know more
and yet
there is always more to discover.

Each one of us is a wondrous mystery
and getting to know ourselves
is our life’s work.

Inside me, whether heading out to a meeting
or staying at home in my ‘comfies’
there is
a place of fear and a place of shame
and a place that can sense anger
and a tender love.
There is a Teacher Archetype and also
an Artist and a Hermit Archetype
and I’ve more recently discovered that
The Soul-Searcher
also lives in me.

Through awareness of our inner lives
we grow into
a knowing
of
who we are
and who are are meant to be…
our own unique calling into life and into the world.

When we speak of doing our inner work
we should capitalize Work
because
it is Work
to observe and explore and understand
all of the reactions and feelings and wisdom
that appear inside of us
in the days of our living.

I am intrigued with the inner life
with the inner motivations, deep desires and
gifts
that show forth in us, yet
sometimes hide within
needing a nudge to be revealed.

I wonder
if you
are also intrigued
with the inner life
and
I wonder
how you go about
knowing
yours?

*** ***** *

We are unique and wondrously made…
each one of us!

A treasure to discover.

Travel at home

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When one retires people often ask
are you planning to travel?
It seems that travel is expected of retired folk.

As I approached my retirement I heard myself say:
when I retire, it will be nice to be able to go somewhere
warm
to escape the coldest part of winter for awhile.

Well, this opportunity came, and
we looked at a few options for January or February
travel
and then decided to stay home.

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For several years I have had a yellowing newspaper clipping
pinned before me at my office desk
and I brought it with me to my home desk.
It was cut from the October 27, 2007
Globe and Mail Saturday Travel Section.

These words of Alison Wearing had caught my attention:
The only ‘place to see before you die’
is whatever spot of ground is closest to you.
Not the floor (or the carpet, for that matter)
but the ground, the earth
and all the quiet majesty it happens to hold,
wherever you are.
I’m convinced that one of the reasons so many of us
feel the urge to fling ourselves around the world is because
we spend far too much time indoors.
Travel is about connecting to what is outside of us,
to allow what is beyond us
to become part of us.
So,
go outside.
Walk to the nearest spot of earth
and notice
one beautiful thing:
how gorgeous the breeze
how exquisite the sight of a vermilion leaf pulling into downward flight
the gift that is rain.
Do that every day and you won’t need to go anywhere.
*** ***** *

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On many of our recent bitterly-cold days
it was tempting to stay inside, but
Hestia
insists that we go out
and I have been grateful to her.
She has been my travel companion at home.

While Alison spoke of breeze and a leaf and rain
I have felt bitter wind and seen snow fall
and
I have noticed:
snow that is dense and heavy
snow that is light and twinkling
snow that crunches
snow that is quiet.
I have noticed:
footsteps
mine and Hestia’s
and also Squirrel, Raven, Deer, and Lynx.
I have noticed:
bending branch and winter-clad needles
bright blue sky, subdued grey landscape
and brilliant sunset.

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My ‘itinerary’
for my travel
at home
has been
The Contemplative Journey
of trying to
notice
and
pay attention to
and
appreciate
‘the spot of ground that is closest to me’.

Work took me away.
Retirement is bringing me home.

Here…there is much to contemplate.

*** ***** *

What are you noticing on the spot of ground that is closest to you?

 

What do I/you love?

In this new year, my attention has been caught by the word
love
that elusive but very real heart-sensation that defies definition
and yet
we know it when we feel it.

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The new year readings that have lifted this up for me to
consider
have come from a variety of sources
each and all asking that I pay attention to
what I love.

First
from a book that our daughter gave her Dad for Christmas
marie kondo, in “the life-changing magic of tidying up”
offers the beautiful idea/practice of simplifying/lessening
the ‘stuff’ of one’s life
(a good follow-up to my last post on subtraction)
by tidying with attention and intention.

She asks readers to consider:
What things will bring you joy if you keep them as part of your life?
Keep only those things that speak to your heart.
And the practice is to hold, to ponder, and to give thanks
for the item (a book, article of clothing etc) whether it is to be kept or released.

We have started to do this.

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Second
is one of the ‘Embracing Mystery’ practices from
Christine Valters Paintner (see Website Resources) who wrote:
… (cultivate) a deep trust in what you love.
What are the things that make your heart beat loudly,
no matter how at odds they feel with your current life
(and perhaps especially so)?
Make some room this year to honour what brings you alive.

Third
are two reminders from an on-line retreat I’m participating in:
A story from the Desert Fathers where an Abba says to a Seeker
Do not give your heart to that which does not satisfy your heart.
and from Deuteronomy
I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.
Choose life so that you and your descendants may live.

And Fourth
the word Viriditas, used by the 12th century mystic
Hildegard of Bingen, meaning
the greening power of God
or
that which brings life to birth.

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So I’ve been asking myself:
what brings me joy / what do I love?
what makes my heart quicken?
what satisfies my heart?
what gifts me with a green birthing?
because I think that I will live more fully in my precious remaining years
if I live as much as I can from a place of
love.

I fully realize that life also contains the hard work
of doing things out of necessity.
Daily life is not all pleasure!
Sometimes it’s grunt-work or grief-work or just plain hard-work
but
we can at least attune to this
realizing the difference between
that which weighs us down and that which lifts us up;
that which feels like a burden and that which delights and fulfills.

Attention
and
Awareness

*** ***** *

So how do I answer the question ‘what do I love’ ?

I love many people and many activities and some things.
I love my family and my friends and my dog Hestia.
I love music and art and books and yarn.
I love Sacred Story and Community Ritual.
I love walking and camping.
I love the things I have that have been made or used by someone I love.

When I take a deeper look inward …
I love the uniqueness of people.
I love the Human Story.

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I love the Wisdom of the Mystics.
I love inner-spiritual Work.

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I love the Compassion that binds us together …
the knowing that we are Kin and therefore
inter-connected and inter-dependent in this wondrous web of life.

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I love the goodness of humankind
that isn’t often headline news, yet daily
people reach out to feed and shelter and listen and
love.

I love the Holy Energy that permeates our world …

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and I wonder

what do you love?

*** ***** *

New Year Intentions

We will welcome the New Year in
St. John’s Newfoundland
where we are visiting our son and daughter-in-law.

As I packed for this New Year’s trip, I pondered
what do I take
and
what do I leave behind?

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The belated Christmas gifts for our son and daughter-in-law…
take.
The bulky sweater I’ve been wearing
that will take up a lot of suitcase space…
leave.
A book…
take
but not the large hardcover book, the smaller one.
Three pairs of pants…no, just two, etc.

*** ***** *

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Meister Eckhart, 1260-1327, a theologian, philosopher, mystic
(see Resources)
has left us with many wise thoughts, including

the soul does not grow by addition but by
subtraction

so as I’ve been packing, I have been thinking about
subtraction
and about the new year
and I have been wondering

what do I take into this new year
and
what do I leave behind?

What might I subtract from my life
so that
Soul
can grow?

Meister Eckhart said
let go and let be

let go
subtract

At this year-end-time I am reflecting and I realize that
in the past two months, as retirement has settled upon me
I have become ‘overly-busy’ in true Enneagram Three style
creating projects
and
making lists
and
trying to achieve each day
so that satisfying check-marks of success
will be noted at days end.
I think I was distressed about life-purpose
and wanted to have something to show for my day
but
the outcome of this was a noted
inner anxiety
and
fretting.

let go
subtract

Let the day be what the day will be
instead of trying to make a day into a
work-day.

I have also noticed that I have been
looking back
and while reviewing life is a good thing to do
I am aware that I have been caught in
nostalgia
for what was
rather than embracing
what is.

let go
subtract

let this new time of life
be

Meister Eckhart also said:

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This seems to be sound
Wisdom
for my New year
because I know that even when I
set an intention
(intention, a spiritual word with meaning similar to resolution)
I usually have a set-back or two
and so
each morning
it will be good for me to
remember
and
begin again
to

let go
subtract
*** ***** *

It seems that often, a New Year’s Resolution is about
more:
more exercise, more social time, more travel, more study etc.
so I am wondering

Are you setting an intention for this New Year?
Is your intention an addition or a
subtraction
a letting go?

*** ***** *

I hope that your 2018 will be filled with
Peace
and
Contentment
and
Soul-growth.

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Christmas

There is a moment that for me says
Christmas.
It is a moment when I feel my open heart and time seems to pause
and this moment is when I hear the following words read at the candle-lit
Christmas Eve service:
And in that region there were shepherds
out in their field
keeping watch over their flock by night…
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The birth of Jesus
is an incredible story.
I hear it on Christmas Eve and
our family reads it prior to dinner on Christmas Day.
Many of us learn it as children and we take it in literally
and then
we grow older and we question
how can this be?

I know several people who have then discarded this story considered
Sacred
in Christian Tradition
once story bumps into fact
and Truth is thought of as historical.

The birth narratives were not written as biography but as
Story
with deep meaning and great purpose
meant to convey the mystery of Christ
and the reality and fear of Jesus’ time on earth.

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When we read the very different stories told by Matthew and Luke
we realize that each had a reason for writing about this
man
who had been so loved by his friends and followers
that a great wondering about his birth was evoked
along with
an appreciation for his very survival through those infancy years
and devotion to his sustaining message.

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… for to you is born this day in the City of David …
these words bring me to a place of attention when I hear them
for they point to a birth of HOPE and
a new way of being / living
that seemed so very unlikely
in Bethlehem
way back then
and still today.

The Story
is to set Jesus in his time …
a time more like our own than we might think
because
Mary and Joseph were refugees
and
Joseph took his family to Egypt to escape death
and
there was a tyrant at the helm of the Empire
who was a threat to anyone who tried to oppose
his domination and violent control.
The Story
is pretty amazing
because
the poorest and most lowly ones
The Shepherds
are the first to realize that LOVE was present amongst them
and
new, young parents
gave nurture to this love
and so enabled
Jesus to grow in Wisdom to become
A Way
of
Peace and Compassion and Justice.

The Story also sets Jesus, the Christ of Love, within all time. 

The Season of Christmas offers to us a time to remember this beginning
and an opportunity
to consider
how might we nurture
Peace and Compassion and Justice
so that we can birth these qualities of goodness

into our time and world

making us an active part of
this
unfolding
Christmas Story.

*** ***** *

You are part of this Story!

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Merry Christmas

Solstice

Winter Solstice is ‘officially’ at 10:28 AM on December 21st
so some people will observe
Solstice
tonight and some people, tomorrow night.

In this December Solstice
when day and night are held in equality
sit and listen to this beautiful song
by
The River’s Voice

let it settle you into this unique moment

and then sit in the silence of the dark

into the dark womb of night
we rest, we breathe, we watch
the mystery draws us inward
as we wait for the light to return

into the winter of earth
the seeds have fallen away
the roots in the ground reclaim their life
retreating to rest in the soil

into the dark womb of night
we rest, we breathe, we watch
the mystery draws us inward
as we wait for the light to return
as we wait for the light to return
as we wait for the light to return