Translator of Christian books, Spiritual Director, and JCFNBoard Member
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28–30, NRSV)
Summer will be over soon. How has been this summer for you? You might not have had much room to enjoy your summer vacation with such intense heat every day in Japan. In U.S., the wild fire in California has become a grave concern. I hope each of you have safely spent this summer.
Today, I would like to introduce you Lectio Divina, a method to listen to the Scripture and pray (or to read the Scripture while praying). Some of you may be already practicing it. Or perhaps you have never heard of it.
At the end of summer, in time for the new school term or for the new year, I wish to calm my mind and listen to the Scripture quoted above. If you feel any sensation of invitation from God by reading this, please try this practice with me.
First, take a relaxed posture and breathe deeply several times. When you breathe, pay special attention to exhale thoroughly. While breathing, be reminded that our life-supporting breath, which distributes oxygen throughout our body via blood stream, is also a symbol of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. When we face the Word, the Holy Spirit sheds his light on the Word as well as on our inner thoughts. And the Spirit also tells us what we need today through the Word.
In a relaxed posture, adjust your breaths, and calm your heart. Perhaps many thoughts might come to your mind and they might keep you from calming down. It might take several minutes to be ready. If you think of something you must take care of, jot it down on a piece of paper and set it aside.
“Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening”
Do you observe the calmness of your mind? Then, read the Scripture above, slowly and several times. Pay attention to each word, each phrase, and take your time to relish them. It might be a good idea to read it aloud. In this Scripture, which word or phrase has left an impression on you? Was there any word or phrase that stood out to you as if an image coming in front of your eyes from those pop-up picture books?
Next, think of the word or phrase that came to your mind (or struck you or intrigued you). Like a ruminating cow or savoring a candy, slowly and repeatedly relish the word or phrase that caught your attention (or struck you or intrigued you.) Do you recognize any emerging image or scenery from that word? Do you feel God’s message to you through that word? What kind of invitation you might feel? You do not have to force yourself to rationalize or try to apply logical thinking. Surrender to the leading of the Holy Spirit and take your time to meditate.
Next, respond in prayer about the message told, the vision shown, or the image given in meditation. Perhaps it will be a prayer of thanksgiving. Perhaps a prayer of praise. Perhaps a prayer of petition. Be free to respond. If you do not come up with much words of prayer, that is fine.
Then, let’s calm ourselves in front of the Lord. At this point, we no longer try to speak or listen; we surrender ourselves in the presence of the Lord, in His arms that wrap around us. Accept the invitation from God and just simply enjoy the fact that you are in His presence.
May the love of God, the mercy of God, the peace of God, keep us today as always.
(Reference: Lectio Divina) Japanese Only