Tools of the Trade: Visio Divina

loupe

While I was in the midst of practicing Lectio Divina back in May, I had decided that the next “tool” I wanted to examine was Visio Divina. And then June and July happened. Between those two months, we packed up our house, moved, got into a car accident, rescued a puppy, started a new job, got a new schedule at said job, and continued going about the business of every day life. Adding yet another daily task into that much chaos felt like folly. But still, there was a part of me that felt a little guilty. No matter how much my relationship with God grows, I still have to actively give myself permission to choose rest over frenzy when it comes to spiritual things. I decided to take the time off and not allow myself to feel like a failure.

So, fast forward a little. During the two months off, I discovered Keri Smith’s “How to Be an Explorer of the World” and the overriding theme in my spiritual life has begun to revolve around training myself to notice things. (Because God speaks through the little things we sometimes ignore.) Finally, life slowed down enough for me to start looking into the process of Visio Divina, I found this:

Allow your eyes to gaze gently on your image. Let them sweep the whole of the picture. Notice the shapes and the colours. Notice the lines and the details. Look for symbols. Notice if there is a place on the image where your eye is invited to linger. Are you called back again and again to a certain detail or colour? Try not to think about it too much. Simply notice where your energy is drawn. Notice also where you eye is avoiding or passing over. What part inspires you? Where do you experience resistance? Slowly become aware of the place on the image that is just for you today. It might be a colour, a shape, or a tiny detail. Stay here. Be open and present to this.

The whole practice is about noticing things!

It now occurs to me that perhaps you might find this fact more impressive if you knew just what Visio Divina was in the first place. Allow me to explain.

Visio Divina is Lectio Divina’s sibling. In Lectio, we slowly and ponderously read over a passage of scripture to see what sticks out to us. In Visio  we methodically look at an image to see what emotions, thoughts or ideas it stirs within us. When you participate in Visio Divina you are entering into a prayer in which you attempt to glean meaning from a picture. This process can take any length of time, but generally 20-30 minutes is accepted as a good amount of time. The instructions below are the most comprehensive I was able to find. Instead of reinventing the wheel, I have reposted them:

Get Ready: Take a few moments to prepare for prayer. Find a comfortable position where you can gaze at your image. Settle into God’s presence by connecting with your breath. Move your awareness from your head into your heart. Know that God can be known through many different forms and images. Be present. Be open.

Eyes to See: Allow your eyes to gaze gently on your image. Let them sweep the whole of the picture. Notice the shapes and the colours. Notice the lines and the details. Look for symbols.
Notice if there is a place on the image where your eye is invited to linger. Are you called back again and again to a certain detail or colour? Try not to think about it too much. Simply notice where your energy is drawn. Notice also where you eye is avoiding or passing over. What part inspires you? Where do you experience resistance?

Slowly become aware of the place on the image that is just for you today. It might be a colour, a shape, or a tiny detail. Stay here. Be open and present to this.

Open Heart: Open your imagination. As you reflect on your place on the image, what feelings or longings are evoked? What memories or hopes are stirred? Make room within your heart for whatever wants to emerge.
Be here. Be present. Let go of judging or critiquing. Simply be, lingering here, opening your heart to whatever wants to rise.

Respond: Slowly begin to notice what your seeing and feeling is revealing. What is the invitation in this moment of your life? In the day-to-day life you are living what is God calling you to do or be? What insights have you gained? What invitation is growing in you? What work would you like to do today?

Enjoy: Let go. Rest. Enjoy a few moments of stillness in this space.

For the duration of this month, I will be examining one picture a day and journaling my way through the process. If any of you out there are interested, I will be posting the images to the Hunting for God Facebook page.  If you haven’t already done so, feel free to like the page and then join me in trying something new.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s