Lexio Divina — A Practice for Awakening to Beauty

Matt and Jim

Matt and Jim

Here is a little lexio from Jim Finley taped series on healing from trauma. This is from the “Following the Mystics — Conclusion” part– the audio is available on Sounds True. This is basically both a teaching from Jim on the nature of the practice of lexio divina and then an example of using this writing as a focus for the actual practice. Enjoy.

Finley: “Lectio Divina, sustained receptivity to a beauty not yet thought about. Your read a text, you read a sentence to a text, a healing word. Jesus says “Fear not.” There’s a word. And as soon as you hear the words “fear not” it is immediately recognized by the heart – something beautiful. Fear not. Then the meditacio is where our mind engages in a dialog with the beauty intimately received. And so meditacio in this sense is a kind of prayerful quiet reflection upon insights that we have.

Thomas Merton has a prayer. You see it a lot on little cards. He said, “Lord God. I cannot see the road ahead of me. I do not know where I am going. And the fact that I think I’m following your will does not mean I’m actually doing so. But I believe the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have this desire in everything that I am doing.” And he says, “If I live this way, you will lead me by the right path, even though I may know nothing about it.”
That’s a great line. That if I want to do your will, even if I might not be doing your will, you will lead me by the right path, even though I may know nothing about it. You may be unwittingly drawing me to Your self in ways that I don’t even recognize. That’s beautiful. And the heart hears the beauty. And then the meditacio is you initiate a dialog on it, of reflection. Does that make sense in a way.

Then the prayer is desire. See the prayer is desire. Like, “Help me with this.” You know you ask for the grace of being more grounded in this kind of trust or openness – or whatever…
This then leads to moments of kind of quietness. Of quietness. Which is the gate of contemplation. Contemplation. Contemplation in the Christian mystical tradition begins in the inner tendency to rest wordlessly in the presence of God, beyond all thoughts and images. Theresa of Avila refers to it as the prayer of quiet. Which she talks about in the fourth mansion of the interior castle. She says, you’re saying your prayers. You’re living your life. You have the scriptures open. And in the middle of it, you’re interiorly drawn not to read the next sentence. You’re interiorly drawn not to think of anything. Not to ask anything. You’re interiorly drawn to rest quietly in the presence of God without thoughts and images. The inner inclination to rest wordlessly in the presence of God is the dawning of contemplation. Contemplation, in the Christian mystical tradition, has two aspects to it. It has a passive aspect, and an active aspect. The passive aspect is that it is a gift. It happens to you in the midst of prayer. In the midst of life. The inner inclination to rest wordlessly in the presence of God is passive – meaning it’s received. It’s received. It’s essentially given. Everything real is essentially given.”

so my reflection on this: ….. the practice. Paying attention in such a way that the beauty hidden in all things is given access to my present moment awareness. And when that beauty is recognized, there is a stopping (so I dont miss it), and then a holding of the beauty. How can I ever express this intimacy that has accessed my heart/mind/body/spirit? How can I explain it to myself? The humility of not knowing and not having the perfect words to express the mysterious beauty. Followed by the humility of asking for whatever there is in this beauty to be brought into my life in a concrete way so that the beauty is made real in my life– inner and outer. Begging from a space of poverty in which there lies an unquenchable longing to be filled with the beauty in all things forever. And this brings me to what is really real — the essentially given that I have already received and can also choose to actively receive– the gift of my life that has always been present before creation, extends to now and continues infinitely– this really real can best be held in the silence that holds all things. Dipping my toe into the foundational safety that is limitless participation. And then letting go. Floating in it. A sensation here. A thought there. Being held and holding, weightless and wait-less. The Practice. It can happen during a purposefully active time, like this, and it can happen in the midst of everyday life.

A begging prayer: Help me to see beauty. When I see it, help me to stop and recognize it. Allow the beauty to fill me with what is really real about God, about Life, about myself, about now. And align me with the silence that holds all things in loving, safe and limitless union.