The LORD God therefore banished him from the Garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he had been taken. He expelled the man, stationing the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword east of the Garden of Eden, to guard the way to the tree of life.
I just re read The Soul of a Pilgrim by Christine Valters Painter. Within each chapter she invites the reader to pray lectio divina on a scripture passage. I pulled the above scripture from chapter 1 within this book, The Practice of Hearing The Call And Responding.
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In case you are not familiar with lectio divina or sacred reading, let me briefly share how I practice it:
- Find a comfortable position where you can remain alert and yet also relax your body. Read the selected scripture once or twice slowly. What words or phrases shimmer: draw and capture your attention?
- Read the scripture slowly again and allow these words and phrases that shimmered to speak to you. What are they trying to tell you? What is the Divine’s message or invitation for you at just this very moment? Ruminate on this within your mind.
- Move into a space of resting in God for a few minutes.
- Bring yourself to the present. You may wish to journal the message that God revealed to you. I also like to place these messages on paper so I can go back and refer to them again. Many of my messages have contained future actions that God has birthed within me.
Now, let me share an example from my reading of the above short passage:
I sit comfortably in my bed and read the above passage.
What words shimmer:
Banished – send someone away for punishment
Expelled – deprive someone of membership
Guard– watch over to protect or control
Till – break up the soil
What is God telling me?
I cannot go back in time. That door has closed. I have been expelled from the past. This is not a punishment but I punish myself when I stew over things not done. These are things that bother me.
I wish I had spent more time with my children or wife yesterday. I should have volunteered for that assignment at work instead of being afraid to try something new. In general, I need to stop being afraid to try and do new things. This includes meeting new people. God is with me each step. Why do I sometimes forget this?
I need to be more present when I am with people, while reading a book or watching a movie. When I take a walk with the dog and family I need to enjoy and relish their presence and at the same time bask in the sights, sounds, smells, textures that surround me: warmth of the sun, gentle breeze in my hair, fireplace aromas, holiday lights on the houses.
I need to continue to break the path before me. I need to continue to till this soil so that new and fresh worlds can bloom and flourish before my very eyes.
How can I continue to till the soil?
Continue my centering prayer sits with God twice a day. God will reveal my next steps in the silence of centering prayer. And when He does I must trust and take action. God loves me, knows what is best for me and is a constant presence of love, wisdom, strength and patience upon which to draw from.
That seems to be all that God has revealed to me at this time so I will sit in silence for a minute or two before I make note of these messages in my journal before I resume with my day.
I seem to have gravitated to the practice of lectio divina right before I retire for the night or after some of my centering prayer sits. I especially like to practice lectio divina before I fall asleep at night. The last step is my rest in God while I sleep. I like to think that I rest in God till I awake in the morning.
To go further in Lectio Divina I recommend the following books:
“Lectio divina is not about acquiring head knowledge of Scripture, but about a profound encounter with the heart of God. What is necessary for this prayer is a willingness to surrender yourself to the process.”
— Christine Valters Paintner,
Lectio Divina – The Sacred Art: Transforming Words & Images into Heart-Centered Prayer (The Art of Spiritual Living) by Christine Valters Painter
Meeting God in Scripture: A Hands-On Guide to Lectio Divina by Jan Johnson.
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I am currently reading Contemplative Living: An Invitation to a Deepening Journey by . I just finished reading Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening by Diana Butler Bass, A Taste of Silence by Carl J Arico and The Bible Makes Sense by Walter Brueggeman
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Centering Prayer is a silent prayer practice that can move you toward a profound relationship with the Spirit of God within. It is a way of praying that opens the door to the Divine Indwelling—the ground of our being. With Centering Prayer, Father Thomas Keating and his colleagues Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler and Father Carl Arico present the first online course in this method for deepening your intimacy with God and ultimately consenting to the presence and action of the Divine in all aspects of your life.
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Since the time of the Desert Fathers in the third century, Finley begins, Christian mystics have practiced meditation as a way of opening to the direct presence of God in daily life. Legendary seekers such as Saint John of the Cross, Saint Teresa of Avila, and Meister Eckhart explored how meditation can lead us beyond the closed horizon of the ego, to an interior and holy refuge that is always available to us. On Christian Meditation, James Finley offers a gentle introduction to this all-transforming way of life, and the ever-deepening realization of oneness with Christ it leads us to. (Based upon his book, Christian Meditation.)