Spiritual Practices for the Season of Advent - Visio Divina
Creative spiritual practices are not restricted to just artistic people. Every person has the ability to use their imagination to create something. When that process opens us to a sacred space that connects us with the Divine, it is a Spiritual Practice. Creative spiritual practices could include music, dancing, singing, poetry, painting, journaling, and Visio Divina.
What Makes Contemplative Practices Christian?
Why we do it. We do it to grow deeper in our relationship with God. To simply sit and spend time with a friend, not necessarily a self-improvement exercise. Through this relationship you may become a better person or more mindful but that is not the primary objective of contemplation.
How we do it. We begin with a focus on our body and our breath in order to re-collect and ground ourselves, but we shift our focus to something greater than ourselves. The primary goal is the humble realization that we’re sitting in the presence of God. We do not get better at contemplation but merely put ourselves in a position to let God do the work.
What we get out of it. As we listen for God in our lives, we wake up and say, “not my will be done but yours”. This goes beyond finding calm, escaping stress, relieving anxiety and becoming happier. The beauty is that we end up leading fuller lives with God’s joy and peace through surrendering our stress and anxiety to God. We are asking God for what He wants, not what we want. To trust that God is leading us a little bit closer to where we are supposed to be, a little bit closer to love.
Visio Divina, “ divine seeing” is a prayer form using images. It shares its roots with Lectio Divina. Similarly, through meditation and prayer and careful interaction, visio divine invites one to encounter the Divine through images. You can use any form of art - a photograph, icon, sculpture, religious painting, stained glass window or other visual representation that allows the viewer to experience the Divine in a unique and powerful way. Though we may have a preferred sense through which we pray, the richest prayer life will come through experiencing God through all our senses.
Practicing Visio Divina
Prepare: Close your eyes, breathe, clear your mind, and ask God to enter into this time of prayer with you. Ask God to speak to you through this image.
Lectio (read): Open your eyes and scan the image. Note what draws your interest, but continue to scan the whole image. Close and rest your eyes a minute.
Mediatio (meditate): Open your eyes and let your eyes be led. Focus on just the part of the image that caught your eyes and name it. Close your eyes, seeing that piece of the image in your mind.
Oratio (pray): Open your eyes and look again at the piece of the image that caught your eye. Allow it to bring forth a word, image or emotion. Close your eyes and rest.
Contemplatio (contemplation): Open your eyes and gaze at the whole image. What is God speaking to you today though this image? How will you respond to Him? Spend time processing that with God. Pray or journal about it.