The Christian tradition is rich with liturgies and practices designed to bring the practitioner closer to their Heavenly Father. One such practice is that of Lectio Divina. Lectio Divina, Latin for divine reading, is composed of four equally important parts: Lectio, Meditatio, Contemplatio, and Oratio. In order, these terms translate too: read, reflect, respond, and rest. The practice of the Lectio Divina can be a bit time consuming and slightly tedious when first beginning but that is precisely what makes it perfect for when COVID-19 thrusts us into a time of social distancing.
As COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, I was sitting on a beach south of Tampa with friends, blissfully unaware of the coming pandemonium. Suddenly, life as we knew it changed. I first received an email warning me of the possibility that my medical mission trip to Papua New Guinea could be cancelled. What came next, I could not have predicted. Within a matter of 36 hours I would no longer be returning to school, my summer mission trip was cancelled, and I would be moving home for the foreseeable future. As soon as I arrived at home, I found myself sitting in my bed thinking “Wow, I have way too much time on my hands.” The abundance of time brought me back to a practice I had learned about in an epistemology class I took in the Fall of 2019, Lectio Divina.
Lectio Divina, draws from the way in which Jews read the Haggadah on the first night of Passover. The word Haggadah means “telling” and the practice finds its origins in Exodus 13:8. In this passage, God commands the Israelites, who have just been freed from Egypt, to tell their children of the miracles He performed. In Lectio Divina, a passage of scripture is read four times to let the hearer internalize the scripture. Followed by a time of silent meditation on what stands out. It is here that we give the spirit time to work, time to bring to light what we might otherwise read over or fail to grasp. Next, it is important to respond to what has been brought to mind. Some do this through journaling while others, like myself, prefer to spend the next few minutes in intent prayer. Lastly, is to take a brief time to rest. This time of rest looks different for everyone. Some simply sit silently and allow their mind time to return to the present before proceeding with the day, while others prefer continuing to reflect until their mind is drawn elsewhere.
In the days to come, there is a good chance that you will find yourself with little or nothing to do. It is with this time that we have been blessed. While being made to slow down and sit still can certainly be a challenge, let us not waste this glorious opportunity to commune with our Heavenly Father. The word of the Lord holds teachings for all who are willing to pause and listen. Will you?