Thursday, April 12, 2012
Lectio Divina is Saving My Life
Last week at our Good Friday service our pastor asked me to find some music to play while everyone was gathering. This meant that I had to go to my office, plug in my iPod, and find something on iTunes. I realized something about myself during this little task, which is that you cannot ask a person like me to do something like this. It's not that I don't want to help. Quite the opposite, in fact. I want to help a little much for my own good. I want to narrow down all of the contemplative music that I have on my computer, sort out the ones with vocals, and then listen to each one that's left, ruling out along the way the ones that sounds a little creepy or disjointed. I can't just find something and that's the problem. I have to make an informed decision, which means that I have to listen to every single piece of music I own. Did I mention that we had ten minutes before the service started?
I am finding this to be true in a lot of other ways. I won't begin a task unless I have time to finish. I refuse to do something because I don't understand it, which means that in order to understand it I have to become and expert, but I don't have time for all of that so I don't even bother. I find this especially true when I read Scripture. I have been wanting to inhale large chunks of Scripture in order to get a better handle on the narrative flow of the bible. The problem when I do this is that about a week later I am wounded from not reading the bible with any sense of devotion. I know that makes me sound really evangelical, but I hope it's more like me sounding like I believe God can speak to me through these words, because most of the time I feel like that's all I've got.
But ... lectio divina is saving my life.
I accidentally started practicing lectio during Holy Week and I haven't been able to stop. A person like me lives in his head. If Richard Rohr is right, we enter the world either through our hearts, guts, or heads. We're either primarily emotional, intuitive, or intellectual people. And this isn't say that some are smarter or whatever. It's just that we each lean toward one more than the others. For me, lectio allows me to put something in my head and hold onto it for day. It slows me down, helping me to pay attention to my breathing, which inevitably stirs something up in soul that I need to pay attention to. Typically, when I read long chunks of Scripture I start to think about how many theology books I haven't read. And then I put the bible down and go read those books, only to find that after a few days I realize I am not reading the bible enough. And it goes on and one. I think paying attention to what is stirred up is a better way to spend my time. I don't need any more guilt about not reading enough.
I am a bit of a headcase, but then again that's how I roll, according to Rohr.
In any case, in an effort to let the words of Scripture take a little more precedence in my life, I am forgoing my usual fifteen minute sermon at the Kansas City Rescue Mission tonight. Instead, we're going to read the bible slowly and thoughtful, maybe even meditatively, and by God's grace contemplatively.
Those guys hear enough people yap at them as it is.
I hope God is good to us tonight.