Revisiting Lectio Divina
After writing on Lectio Divina, I feel as though I hadn't thoroughly said all there is to say. The phrase was everywhere I looked these past few weeks, which was odd as I encountered it for the fist time only last Sunday. I was reading Addie Zierman's memoir, "When We Were on Fire," for one of my classes and it was there in print, staring up at me in the midst of words about her life. I then wrote the article concerning why we should re-read books and why it is so important for us to slow down and take in a text that we may otherwise miss the small elements.
Then, All Sons and Daughters was in chapel not long ago; the female lead singer said she wanted to do something with us that they do at their church and before their shows. She said, 'It's called Lectio Divina, or the art of sacred reading.'
I looked up from checking email on my phone to stare at her. She continued, saying, 'It's important to stop and reflect,' and, over the next five minutes or so, she proceeded to read scripture and act out Lectio right there in chapel. She read a passage from Philippians 4, paused, read it again, and we sat in silence as she asked us to take a minute to meditate on it; she then asked everyone to read aloud with her. It was a special moment when she acted on the importance of reflection and response before moving into the songs they had prepared to sing.
As readers, the next question after encountering the idea of Lectio Divina is 'Now what? What text/book/novel should I read?' I have found myself more and more drawn to texts filled with quotes that encourage me to see the beauty of words and stories in the middle of assigned readings for class. I don't read many books that I choose for pleasure these days, but one that I have come across recently in a class has reminded me that novels and books hold a certain kind of weight that cannot be filled by Netflix binge-watching.
"Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life" is a book by Anne Lamott that details the struggle of writing well, and how to make the most of the time and ideas you have been given. There are also numerous quotes throughout her book that highlight reading as essential ' something that lifts our spirits and revives us ' such as the following:
'For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.'
I love this quote because it truly sums up what it means to engage fully in an author's text and how good novels often parallel life.
Something I have begun doing recently is stopping to pick up a novel from my middle and/or high school years that affected me in some way. I take a pen and underline new sentences that have taken on a new meaning, and I read to remember the feeling of picking up the book for the first time. I appreciate the familiarity that makes it easier to let myself be caught up in the story, in the words. I think looking back on, and re-reading, those texts that were important to us once is helpful as we consider how Lectio Divina can help us to better reflect on what we read.