Sacred Texts

Not words…conversations.

February 6, 2022

Center for Action and Contemplation

Reading with Divine presence…

Lectio divina is a contemplative way of reading and relating to Scripture and other sacred writings. The medieval monk Guigo II (d. 1188) names the four steps of this foundational contemplative practice:

“One day when I was busy working with my hands I began to think about our spiritual work, and all at once four stages in spiritual exercise came into my mind: reading, meditation, prayer and contemplation.  It has few rungs, yet its length is immense and wonderful, for its lower end rests upon the earth, but its top pierces the clouds and touches heavenly secrets.” 

Read the following passage slowly four times. With the first reading (perhaps aloud), listen with your heart’s ear for a phrase or word that stands out for you. During the second reading, reflect on what touches you, perhaps speaking that phrase or word aloud or writing it in a journal. Third, respond with a prayer or expression of what you have experienced and to what you are called. Fourth, rest in silence after the reading.

Engage in the practice of lectio divina with his poem “Of Earth and Sky.”

Of Earth and Sky  

Let me tell you about the ancestors,  
she said to me as I sat and relaxed
myself into Grandma’s lap. She was
sharp, and even in her old age
her memory could search
into the far reaches of the past.

I can’t stay up too late, not like I used to.  
And then she proceeded to tell me tales
of Greats and Great Greats who did some
great and not-so-great things. Our family
tree is filled with triumph and struggle.
The imperfections make it beautiful.

They’re all just human, you know, just like you.  
She poked her frail finger into the flesh of my pectoral.
My kin, of the earth—the humus—yet filled with the breath
of God. Is this not what it means to be adam?

Never forget who you come from,  
she said before calling it a night. Her words
implied that this sort of remembrance
would keep me grounded, but also keep me going.
Soaring high when they try to keep me down.
I won’t forget that I am of earth and sky.

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