Encouragement From The Word

Visio Divina

If your experience is anything like mine, you might have found that even the pandemic and its restrictions have not slowed you down all that much.

Sometimes, we find that if we stop doing something, we get restless, thinking that the time could be used more productively.  (For some, playing a video game or watching television might feel like productivity!)

But if just sitting in silence, alone with your thoughts, seems daunting, try this:  sit with an image.

You might have heard of the ancient practice of lectio divina, or holy reading, where we take a short passage of Scripture and read it over a few times, meditating as we go to grasp what God may be saying to us through it.  But have you heard of visio divina?  That’s a practice where we take an image and look at it intently for a period of time, to discern whether the Lord may have a word for us through that.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be a sacred image; it could be any piece of art.  For instance, consider this image.  Take a few minutes just to look at it, with no other distractions.  Does God have a word for you in that image?

MP 113, Laggan Subdivision, CPR, near Lake Louise, Alta.; © 2015 Jeff Loach.

If anything came to you, write it down on a piece of paper, or in your journal, and talk to the Lord about it.  Maybe this could be a new way of engaging with him.

Encouragement From The Word

Holy Gazing

Along with the somewhat more common spiritual practice called lectio divina, or holy reading, whereby we read a passage of Scripture a few times in order to hear from the Lord, there is also a less common spiritual practice called visio divina, or holy watching.  In this practice, we spend a protracted time gazing upon an image, likewise in order to hear from the Lord.

When we look upon an image, we may see something that prompts a memory, something that might encourage us to have a conversation with God.  The idea is certainly not to use the image as an object of worship, but to allow God to use it to speak into our lives in some way that will build our relationship with him.

Today, I’m encouraging you to spend a few minutes – as long as it takes – looking at this image.  Ask yourself these questions:

What stands out to me the most?

Is there a colour that quickens me in some way?

What emotions am I feeling as I look at this?

Then, pause, and offer your answers to these questions to the Lord.  Perhaps he wants to speak to you.  Even if you get no clear message, spend some time praising him, inspired by the image.

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“If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.”  This is a large mural on the wall of the lower chapel at Magdala in Israel.

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.  The world and all its people belong to him” (Psalm 24.1, NLT).