Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Well Said - Advent: Letting Go and Going Deeper

Winter preserves and strengthens a tree. Rather than expending its strength on the exterior surface, its sap is forced deeper and deeper into its interior depth. In winter a tougher, more resilient life is firmly established. Winter is necessary for the tree to survive and flourish.

Instantly you see the application. So often we hide our true condition with the surface virtues of pious activity, but, once the leaves of our frantic pace drop away, the power of a wintry spirituality can have effect.

To the outward eye everything looks barren and unsightly. Our many defects, flaws, weaknesses, and imperfections stand out in bold relief. But only the outward virtues have collapsed; the principle of virtue is actually being strengthened. The soul is venturing forth into the interior. Real, solid, enduring virtues begin to develop deep within. Pure love is being birthed.
Richard Foster, Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home
This quote seems like one more gentle reminder of a truth I've come face to face with in the last few weeks. I have been reading Father Dysinger's introduction to lectio divina again. I have found over the years that I practice my own unique form of lectio but anchoring myself occasionally in traditional instruction is always good. I find the above theme is echoed by Father Dysinger.
THE ART of lectio divina begins with cultivating the ability to listen deeply, to hear “with the ear of our hearts” as St. Benedict encourages us in the Prologue to the Rule. When we read the Scriptures we should try to imitate the prophet Elijah. We should allow ourselves to become women and men who are able to listen for the still, small voice of God (I Kings 19:12); the “faint murmuring sound” which is God's word for us, God's voice touching our hearts. This gentle listening is an “atunement” to the presence of God in that special part of God's creation which is the Scriptures.

THE CRY of the prophets to ancient Israel was the joy-filled command to “Listen!” “Sh'ma Israel: Hear, O Israel!” In lectio divina we, too, heed that command and turn to the Scriptures, knowing that we must “hear” - listen - to the voice of God, which often speaks very softly. In order to hear someone speaking softly we must learn to be silent. We must learn to love silence. If we are constantly speaking or if we are surrounded with noise, we cannot hear gentle sounds. The practice of lectio divina, therefore, requires that we first quiet down in order to hear God's word to us...
Perhaps it is simply appropriate to the season, to that looking forward in Advent to the One who comes to complete us, to fill that empty "God-shaped" hole in our hearts.

All I know is that in the letting go, the taking up again of lectio, I am finding a quiet peace that is the perfect antidote to the rushing of Christmas preparation. Indeed, it makes the Christmas preparation simpler and calmer, despite the fact that I am doing nothing different than usual ... on the outside, that is. On the inside, I am listening ...


  1. Julie, I'm not sure if you're aware, but Cardinal Collins of Toronto is a huge proponent of lectio. He is a very charismatic speaker and his lectio is all online: http://www.archtoronto.org/lectio/index.htm

    I know you like podcasts, and it might be interesting to see how someone else experiences this form of prayer.

    1. Meg, thanks so much for pointing me to these! He's on iTunes so that makes it even easier. The first one I've tried is really great.

  2. Found you via Karen Edmisten...

    I'm reading Caryll Houselander and pondering the God-shaped hole this Advent. Thanks for this bit of lovely encouragement.

    Peace keep you.