Thursday, February 24, 2011

Lectio Divina - Part 7

Where should we practice lectio divina?
           We must also be both committed and flexible about the place in which we practice our lectio divina. Our environment is important. Human beings are sensory creatures, made up of both body and soul, and we know from experience that our surroundings can make us feel relaxed or agitated, focused or distracted. Of course, when we read, meditate, pray, and perhaps contemplate the Sacred Scriptures, we ought to do so in what Michael Casey calls a “prayerful space.” (8) Let us listen for a few moments to Casey and Mario Masini as they discuss the “where” of lectio divina. Masini notes that lectio divina “should be practiced in a place which permits silence and favors recollection, reflection and prayer.” (9) This would naturally exclude most workplaces, public spaces like coffee shops and, unfortunately, many libraries, and even high traffic areas at home. This might seem obvious, but in this age of multitasking, it is worth mentioning. In lectio divina, we meet God; we should not be distracted by the chatter and busyness of others. Casey, too, emphasizes the need for quiet privacy, adding that we should even avoid practicing lectio divina in areas in which we perform other activities. (10) We might be easily distracted by the next item on the “to-do” list unless we remove ourselves to a location in which we will be less tempted to intersperse our prayer with work.
          So what characteristics should our lectio divina space have then? According to Casey, it ought to be comfortable (but not so much so that we will fall asleep), quiet and private (as we have said), and well lit (with proper reading light that is neither too bright nor too dim). (11) It should contain a Bible, a chair that provides the correct amount of support without inducing drowsiness, a table or desk, and a crucifix, icon, candle, or other religious symbol (we are, after all, sensory creatures, and material things can help us to raise our minds to God). (12) Casey also suggests the use of “flowers, incense, or essential oils” for a “pleasing fragrance,” and both Casey and Masini offer the possibility of background music, provided it does not prove too distracting. (13) Practically, this ideal space might be discovered in the corner of a bedroom, a spare room, a basement or attic nook, or even a large closet. Those who live in small spaces may have to improvise a bit, but our primary goal must always be to create a “sacred site,” somewhere special we can go just for lectio divina, somewhere we can forget the rest of the world for a while and reach out to God so that we can notice Him reaching out to us.
8. Casey, 91.
9. Masini, 74.
10. Casey, 80-81.
11. Ibid.; Masini, 74.
12. Ibid.
13. Casey, 81.

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