By Kathy Keary
Our full series in the Contemplative Prayer Video Series is here.
Revisit earlier articles in our Contemplative Life Series here.
In this video, I will walk you through the steps of Visio Divina or Sacred Seeing as we behold a picture of Jesus’ Ascension into heaven. This contemplative practice opens us to an encounter with the Divine.
Imagine what Jesus’ disciples must have been thinking and feeling as their beloved leader departed.
Visio Divina is a form of contemplative meditation that has its roots in ancient times. People throughout the ages have encountered the Divine through art. It’s an awesome vehicle for God to communicate with us personally relaying the unique message intended for each one of us.
St. Benedict set the tone for spirituality in the West calling the people to listen first as we find in the practice of Lectio Divina or Sacred Reading. In contrast, the core of eastern spirituality is gazing.
Henri Nouwen shared that when he was too tired to pray, to read the gospels, too restless to have spiritual thoughts, too depressed to find words for God, or too exhausted to do anything, he could look at images that immediately and intimately connected him with an experience of God’s love. The art became the sacrament that opened his heart to the Divine. The visible, the art, makes the invisible, God, present in very real way.
In the video, I walked the viewer through the steps of Visio Divina as we gazed upon a picture of a fresco found in a church in the Czech Republic. You were invited to behold the image not only with your eyes but with your heart.
I invite you to take a few deep breaths to center yourself. Inhale God’s love. Exhale any distractions that will prevent you from truly entering into this soulful prayer experience.
Gaze at the entire picture. Notice the shapes, the colors, and the lighting. Notice the detail of both the foreground and background. Once you have visually canvased the artwork, note to what your attention is being drawn. Just like in Lectio Divina, it is God that is luring you to a treasure meant just for you.
Meditate on the part of the picture that has drawn your attention. How is God speaking to you? Why do you think God drew your attention to this particular part? Is a message conveyed that pertains to your life today? Do you sense an invitation? Do you hear a call? Is a memory aroused? Allow these thoughts to descend to your heart. What emotion is evoked? What word describes your inner stirring as you embrace this feeling? Allow God’s communication to touch you deep within where the Spirit dwells.
God has been speaking to you as you meditated on this artwork. It’s now time for you to respond to the Divine. Allow your words to be born in the recesses of your soul. What is your response? What is your prayer? Articulate any yearnings or desires that arise. Give voice to the emotion that is whirling within.
Words are never sufficient to express our deepest selves. Turn to silence to simply rest in communion with our Creator – the One who kissed your soul before placing it in your body – the One who loves you beyond measure. Savor the stillness. Be soothed by Love.
I have found that the regular practice of Visio Divina facilitates viewing all of life through a sacred lens revealing God communicating to me through the wonders of creation.
I would like to draw your attention to a book study that I will be leading on four Thursday mornings beginning July 14th. The book is entitled Letting Go of Nothing: Relax Your Mind and Discover the Wonder of Your True Nature by Peter Russell, a leading thinker on consciousness and contemporary spirituality. His wide-ranging education includes psychology, meditation, and Eastern philosophy. Details and an opportunity to register can be found by clicking on the above link.
Let’s take a moment of silence to hold in our hearts the victims of the Uvalde and Buffalo massacres as well as the victims of the war in Ukraine. Let’s also hold in the Light the people who have lost loved ones to this senseless violence. May our leaders take measures to keep this horrific bloodshed from repeating over and over again.
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[Kathy Keary, spiritual director, holds a bachelor’s degree in education, a master’s degree in theological studies, and completed Sophia Center’s Souljourners Program, an intense study of spirituality and spiritual direction. Kathy believes that the Divine is present and active in all of life and encourages others to be awakened to the God in all including the Divine within. She enjoys accompanying others on their journey to wholeness discovering the person they were created to be.]
Photo 134892307 / Ascension Jesus © Jozef Sedmak | Dreamstime.com
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