Thursday, February 28, 2013

Lectio of Longing

The other day Jan Richardson's online Lenten retreat pondered this:

If you're familiar with the practice of lectio divina (a Greek term that means "sacred reading"), you know that it is an ancient form of prayer, a way of entering the scriptures in a meditative fashion....

Traditionally done with passages from the Bible, lectio can also be used with visual art and with any text, including the sacred text of our own life -- the story that God is creating within each of us. 

If our longings are a gift from God and a place of connection with God in the unfolding story of our life, then spending time in prayer with them can help reveal how God lives within our longings and may speak to us through them.

As you linger with your list, here are a few questions for your lectio on longing. Feel free to contemplate any or all of these questions, and notice what other questions may come up for you as you reflect.

- Which desire has the most energy for you and keeps drawing your attention? I have this curious paradoxical desire for both deep peace and profound energy. I wish to have enough peace to be aware, reflective, perceptive, thoughtful. AND - I wish to have energy to do all that I have and want to do.

I have always wanted to be a person who was quiet, thoughtful,  and engaged in active listening. I tend to be someone whose mind is active jumping from thing to the next, especially when I am excited about something. I practice daily meditation with the hope that it will create in me the quietness I yearn for. I'm thinking of that kind of deep quiet that is almost palpable when one encounters a person of prayer, their inner calm exudes out, is evident to all around them. And, with that quiet calm, a sense of wisdom and peace. 

I think I manage only a tiny piece of this...and that after 37 years of meditating. I sometimes wonder what I'd be like if I did not meditate...ack, I'd be a lot more forgetful and scatterbrained and more of the chaos inside would be reflected on the outside...so, at least meditating serves to keep a modicum of peacefulness inside and out.
- What emotion do you associate with this longing? Hope. I can continue to hope for greater peace, more wisdom, better active listening.
- Where do you hold this longing; how do you experience it in your body? I suspect this emotion is being held in my heart because I am experiencing heart palpitations...and I trust the symbiotic relationship between how one feels and how one's body responds.
- What threads of connection does this desire hold: to your memories, experiences, dreams? I think I have had a life long desire for balance between peace and energy. It is why I meditate. It is why I do yoga and exercise. It is why I pray. It is why I write - to process the connection between desire, memories, experiences, dreams, and hope.
- Is there a longing that lies beneath this longing? Yes - longing for rest, deep, deep rest. And then from that rest, to gain insight and wisdom. And to have energy even as I have peace. 
- Where do you notice the presence of God in this longing? God is calling to me in the longing and in the opportunities that come, encouraging me to rest and find hope which will bring both peace and energy.

- What invitation might this desire hold? An invitation to trust. I think it is really difficult to find inner peace and quietness of spirit when one does not trust - the spirit, God, ones self, others. Trust is crucial.

 Jan concludes with this:
As you end this time of reflection, I invite you to simply rest in your longing, mindful of the presence of the One who longs for you.
There are many questions we could ask in this lectio on longing. The primary invitation is to sit with your wanting, and notice what you notice. This bears doing more than once; as with any kind of lectio, what we notice changes over time, and our longings -- as with our lives -- may have many layers, which are not revealed all at once. 

One thing I notice, the more I meditate, the better I sleep and better I feel. The challenge is to accept my meditation however it is - sometimes deep and silent, almost like sleeping while other times I seem to be more conscious of every little thing around me. Such is the nature of a meditation practice, which is just another way of lectio divina of the self. 

Top of the Rocky Mountains, southern Utah, a metaphor for longing, what is just around the bend?
 

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