Strike the Rock – Creative Response to Lectio Divina
Strike the Rock – Creative Response to Lectio Divina
This is my creative response to Lectio Divina this week.
It is reflective of my theological understanding of what Brene Brown teaches in her Ted Talk about shame and vulnerability. There is something about original sin, shame, and the power of vulnerability that connects deeply for me. I wonder if the knowledge of good and evil is the move from “simply being” to the knowledge that we are imperfect. What if the knowledge of good and evil is the knowledge that there is a continuum…the knowledge that some things are better than others? There are people better than us, faster than us…in this world we may not be good enough, lovable enough…what if the knowledge of good and evil is the fear that we may not be worthy of love and belonging? Which drives us to the question…where am I on the continuum? Is my location good enough? The search for salvation then is the search for the knowledge that we are worthy of love and belonging. We search for this place where we know we are imperfect and we know we are worthy of love…that we belong to someone. Which of course we do, in so many ways God reaches out to us to show us that we may be imperfect but we are worthy of love and belonging.
Image response to Lectio Divina
This was the most powerful group I have led up to this point. It was a Spirit filled, Holy night.
I do not think I will ever be able to explain the power of this video! The large group gathering was contemplative and quiet. As the leader, I was very intentional about using few words, I did not want to fill the space with too much chatter. It was powerful for both youth and adults alike! Below is an outline of the evening, what and how I taught, and the small group/TAG time questions.
This is my take on it…but the creativity and artistry of the video demands conversation…so I wonder, what would you do? How would you frame a class around this video? Adult? Student? Multi-generational group? Drop me a comment below! Thanks! Tiffany
“We all struggle with issues of blame and condemnation. They are the weapons we often use to hurt others in our culture. We are going to watch a short video. After the video you have two choices; you can either grab a blank piece of paper and draw or write whatever you want. Or you can take one of the papers that have questions for TAG time (TAG = Time Alone with God).”
(On the floor in the middle of the room I had crayons, markers, blank sheets of paper, and a stack of printouts of the nights questions.)
(TAG Time is “Time Alone with God.” It is a time of intentional quiet, answering questions, drawing, praying or contemplation.)
“There are a lot of characters in the video. When you watch it this time, notice how many different characters that are in the video. Which one is you? Your friends? Your family? Where is Christ?”
“I realized something as I watched this video and read the story of the Good Samaritan again…I realized the power in this story is that it is a story about all of us. I would like to say I am the Good Samaritan, but that’s not always me. Sometimes I am the innkeeper, willing to help people who are helping others. Sometimes, I am the priest and the Levite, judgmental, hypocritical…too good to stop and help when I see someone in need. And I hate to say it, but sometimes I am the robber…the one causing pain in others. And sometimes I am the one being beaten up by life, the one in need of help. And yes, sometimes I am the Good Samaritan, the one that sees the pain and is willing to step in and sacrifice my own time, money, and reputation to help. Jesus calls us to be Good Samaritans, to be the ones not only willing to help, but willing to sacrifice to help.”
These are the questions used for TAG time and small group discussion. Most of them were adaptations from chapter 4 Blame and Condemnation, from the book The Search for Significance: Student Edition
by Robert McGee. (The Blame Game – TAG Time Questions PDF File)
“Every day, students and teacher alike enter their schools packing a concealed deadly weapon…that weapon is our ability to send a message of condemnation or blame to another person using words, physical force, facial expressions or silence….and we are as likely to be hit as pull the trigger” (The Search for Significance Student Edition, Robert S. McGee, pages 71-72).
As we watch the video, To This Day think about these questions and then take some Time Alone with God (TAG Time).
– What mistakes have you made in the past that your parents, friends, or others keep bringing up to make you feel bad? How do you react? Do you laugh it off? Get angry? Feel rejected? Blame yourself?
– Remember a situation where you have heard someone being ridiculed or verbally abused. What could you have done to help? What did you do? What will you do next time?
– Remember a situation, whether at school or at home, where you were the one doing the blaming and condemning. What did you do? What could you have done differently? How did you feel later?
– There are many characters in the video. Which one is most like you? What does the character do, say, or feel that you identify with?
– Christ spends much of his ministry loving people that are unlovable; he loves the tax collectors, prostitutes, and other sinners. He asks us to love the unlovable too. Who are the people in your live that are hard to love? What are ways you can show them love? What would you have to sacrifice to show them love in this way?
Henri J. M. Nouwen:
We are the Beloved. That’s the truth I want you to claim for yourself. That’s the truth spoken by the voice that says, “You are my Beloved.”
Listening to that voice with great inner attentiveness, I hear at my center words that say: “I have called you by name, from the very beginning, You are mine and I am yours. You are my Beloved, on you my favor rests. I have molded you in the depths of the earth and knitted you together in your mother’s womb. I have carved you in the palms of my hands and hidden you in the shadow of my embrace. I look at you with infinite tenderness and care for you with a care more intimate than that of a mother for her child. I have counted every hair on your head and guided you at every step. Wherever you go, I go with you, and wherever you rest, I keep watch. I will give you food that will satisfy all your hunger and drink that will quench all your thirst. I will not hide my face from you. You know me as your own as I know you as my own. You belong to me. I am your father, your mother, your brother, your sister, your lover and your spouse…yes, even your child…wherever you are I will be. Nothing will ever separate us. We are one.”
Centering prayer does not work; Lectio Divina does not work; there is not a spiritual practice on the planet that “works.”
We know when something “works,” right?
When you sit down with family…
(the people who know you BEST!)
…on the best day of the year…
…you open that perfect gift…
(What is your perfect gift? An iPhone? iPad? Xbox? Playstation?)
The second you open that gift you know it “worked.”
The present gave you overwhelming joy, the feeling of love and appreciation, happiness beyond happiness. This is how we know something “works.” Something is doing its job and fulfilling our every need when we experience joy and stop experiencing “want” or “need.” We know when something works!
Lectio Divina, centering prayer and other spiritual practices are so counter cultural to that message of happiness and joy that comes with the opening the best Christmas present. We do not expect a Christmas morning experience with Lectio Divina. I know it is not something I look for or expect to happen. In fact, I expect nothing…and I am content with nothing. (Well…I practice being content with nothing…)
As a requirement for my United Methodist History class, I prayed with Lectio Divina six days a week for nine weeks. I choose my iPod as my starting point. First, I created a playlist on my iPod and named it daily prayer. Using my iPod had a few advantages: I could adjust my time in prayer by adding or deleting songs, it allowed me to clip the beginning or ending of audio tracks, and if I fell asleep in the midst of prayer (oops!) I could stay asleep because the end of a playlist means the end of all iPod generated sounds! Nine weeks ago, my playlist contained three tracks: a piano solo, Lectio Divina when in doubt by Rev. Todd Spencer, and finally O Lord Hear My Prayer by Taizé Community Choir. Every Monday I delete the old Lectio Divina Podcast and replace it with the new one.
Having it on my iPod made it easy for me to make adjustments. For instance, I found that I was uncomfortable moving straight from Lectio Divina to O Lord Hear My Prayer, there was not enough transition time between the two. To fit my needs, I added Tibetan Singing Bowl Meditation by Sounds for Life between the two tracks. Only to discover that the Tibetan Singing Bowls were too loud, (especially if I had drifted off to sleep! Ouch!). Luckily, this is an easy fix in iTunes; I just turned the volume of this track down. Unfortunately, adding the Tibetan singing bowls made my total time in prayer too long. iTunes allowed me to cut out some of the singing bowls, which was enough of an adjustment to the time. I think the ability to make small adjustments like this made the assignment more manageable and enjoyable.
As the weeks went on, I also adjusted what I did while praying. I tried an assortment of activities while listening: I walked or sketched, sometimes I followed along with the text, and occasionally I would journal or blog after praying. Some of these adjustments grew out of impatience, others out of the need for a better fit. For instance, I often had a hard time focusing. Suddenly, I would catch myself planning, scheduling or thinking about homework. However, when I read the scripture while listening to it I could focus with ease. This adjustment fit my spirit. On the other hand, drawing had the opposite effect. I can draw OR I can listen, I cannot do both at the same time! Two things that were most helpful were blogging and journaling in response to the time I spent in prayer. Every time I responded in some way, it was a deeper more meaningful experience.
Journaling or blogging was important whether in the form of a written prayer or a quick sketch (which worked just fine after listening to the text!). This assignment led me to the discovery that I need to respond in some way, it is not a place for me to receive something; instead, it is a time for me to join in conversation with God.
What did I get out of it? Let’s be real…it was never anything like Christmas morning! There was not a moment when I was suddenly overwhelmed with joy and happiness because of this newly opened gift. Spiritual practices, including Lectio Divina, do not offer the instant fulfillment our culture has grown to expect from Christmas Day. We often believe that change must happen in a “WOW!” moment. The tradition of Lectio Divina exists in a world that moves much slower. We slow down to enter into that world. Growth…from baby…to child…to wise adult, takes decades, not a moment or two. This ancient practice seeks to remind me to slow down. It holds me lovingly in God’s hands and gives me the courage and confidence to grow and learn. It is a slow process.
I did not experience Christmas morning but I did find time and space to think about what was works and what doesn’t. I cannot draw and listen at the same time, but I can read and listen. I can rest or walk away when I am done, but putting effort into responding is an important part of growing my relationship with the One that is always inviting me closer. So, no Christmas morning, no dramatic change…but day after day, year after year, decade after decade, I am shaped by God.
P.S. As an interesting addition to my practice of Lectio Divina this quarter: For an (unrelated) history course we created projects in groups. A member of the group suggested that we create a project on Lectio Divina. So, by a random coincidence I also studied the history of Lectio Divina AND had the opportunity to have a few conversations with other students/pastors. What a great experience :-) Anyway, here is one video that we created for our project. (We also created a Google Site: Lectio Divina)
“Whoever wants to become great must become a servant.”
The tone of text is not “where you nice to someone when you didn’t have to be” nor is it “did you do your volunteer time at the kid’s school this week?” We are listening to a conversation between people who are going to die for their faith! So, when Jesus says, if you want to be great you must be a servant…we are not talking about a few volunteer hours here and there! We are talking about some serious sacrifice.
I put more than my fair share of volunteer time in but is it enough to consider myself a “servant.” I spend my days interacting with really (really, really) smart people, learning about things I love to learn about, I have a husband that supports me, emotionally and financially, I have kids that are smart and confident, I have books…(and more books)…and all of this can only come if I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back, and I eat when I am hungry. Doesn’t sound very much like a “servant” to me!
Good thing I am aiming for humble not great!
Because I really don’t want to give that all up. I love my God, I (kind of) have given my life to following this path. (But I didn’t really “give” anything. I love what I have, where I am at, and where I am going. ) This faith walk has never asked me to give my life, not like they talk about it in these verses.
So, this is the question I asked during prayer time: am I a servant?
On the one hand no. We all know that I am no servant. I will not be giving my life for my faith, I will probably never be asked to even seriously consider it. On the other hand, this stuff is hard, challenging. I give up time with my kids and my man; I struggle to keep my stress level to a manageable level; and I face myself…my fears, my joys…all of me. Leaning on “the Bible says it…so I believe it” is not an option. I have to face my fears, question my faith, I spend my life being vulnerable…so I can spend the rest of my life being vulnerable with the people who call me “pastor.”
So no, I am not a servant. But I am willing to keep striving for humble.
O Holy God, thank you for not asking me to give up everything. I want to say I would be your servant…no matter what…but we both know that wouldn’t be very honest. I like my cushy life. Even though this is where I am today, please walk with me again tomorrow and help me become a bit more like the Christ that didn’t want to go…but walked to the cross anyway.