Spiritual Practices

Spiritual Practices for

Our Challenging Times 

Lectio Divina

 

 

 

 

 

Lectio Divina or Divine or Holy Reading, is a pracice of slowly reading a passage of scripture, and giving it careful reflection as you read. The traditional four steps or movements are: Lectio, Meditatio, Oratio and Contemplatio – Read, Meditate, Pray, and Contemplate.

 

Lectio Divina, like last week’s spiritual practice of The Labyrinth, originated in the 3rd century. The monastic practice of Lectio Divina was first established in the 6th century by Benedict of Nursia, the founder of the Benedictine religious order. The four-step process was formalized by a Carthusian monk during the 12th century. The practice was revived in the 20th century following the Second Vatican Council in 1965 and is now used by many practicing Catholics, Anglicans, as well as other Protestants.

 

The Four Movements of Lectio Divina

 

Lectio Divina has been likened to "feasting on the Word": first, the taking of a bite (lectio-read); then chewing on it (meditatio-meditate); savoring its essence (oratio-pray) and, finally, "digesting" it and making it a part of the body (contemplatio-contemplate).

 

1. Reading (Lectio): Read a Scripture passage, such as the one below from Acts, listening with the “ear of your heart.” If appropriate read the passage out loud. What word or phrase captures your attention? Repeat the word gently.

 

2. Reflecting (Meditatio): Read the passage aloud again and reflect on and relish the words. Be attentive to what speaks to your heart.

 

3. Responding (Oratio): As you read the passage a third time listen deeply, allow responses to arise spontaneously -- praise, thanksgiving, questions.

 

4. Resting in (Contemplatio): Read the passage silently a final time. Simply “be with” God’s presence as you open to deeper meanings of the passage for you in this time.

 

A Lectio Divina for Pentecost - Acts 2:1–8; 12 - Coming of the Holy Spirit

 

1When the day of Pentecost had come; they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.5Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7Amazed and astonished, they asked, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? …. 12All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’

 

A message from the Pacific Spirit United Spiritual Nurture Committee

The Labyrinth

 

You can find a copy of the Paper Chart Labyrinth HERE

We have all been witnessing the winding circular path used in Threshold and Blessing in Pacific Spirit United Church’s recent Sunday worship services on YouTube. The first weeks we were taken on a virtual walk in the labyrinth, and recently viewing from a distance.

 

So, what is a labyrinth and what is its place in the Christian tradition. The labyrinth is a single path, with many turns and twists that starts to bring us closer to the core of our inner being, then farther away, and back again ending at the center. It can be metaphor for a spiritual journey, lots of twists and turns, sometimes going deeper spiritually, with times of shallowness, but if we continue the path we get to our inner being in union with the Divine, the Holy, God. However, that is only half the journey. Having travelled to the center on this winding meditative walk, resting for a while with our interior self, we must reverse our steps to the outside world, refreshed and renewed, called to re-engage with the world.

 

The earliest Christian labyrinth dates from about 324 CE on the floor of the basilica of San Reparatus in El Asnam, Algeria. One of the oldest finger tracing labyrinths is a small carved labyrinth at the entrance to the Cathedral of San Martino, Lucca, Italy dating from the 12th century. The most famous Christian labyrinth is inlaid in the floor of the nave at Chartres Cathedral, Chartres, France. This also dates from the 12th century and is approximately 13 meters in diameter. Yes, a long history in the Christian tradition.

 

The Labyrinth is a walking meditation that helps to quiet the mind, open the heart, and ground the body. Each person experiences the Labyrinth walk in their own way. It is important to walk it slowly in a meditative fashion. You need to pay attention to where you are going. Some like to silently repeat a mantra or chant as they walk. Other prefer the silence. There are three phases to the walk. Some describe it as releasing or letting go on the way to the center; pausing in the center to pray, maybe to express gratitude, maybe to receive; and then the return to the world maybe to take back to others what you received. When you come back to the entrance take time to pause again. At least sometimes take a few moments to journal your thoughts and feeling you experienced in each of the phases.

 

Two scriptures sayings to consider using are Psalm 16:11 “You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy.” and John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth and the life.”

 

Outdoor labyrinths available for walking:

  • St. Albans Anglican Church in Richmond (corner of St Albans and Bennett). A full-size Chartres replica, two-toned bricks, very even.

  • Iona Building, UBC. Behind the former VST building (now the School of Economics), north end of UBC campus. A Maltese labyrinth, slightly smaller, also very even

  • Hinge Park, South Side of False creek, west of Columbia at Athletes Way, stone markers between path, also some vegetation growth. Is more uneven to walk.

 

A Finger Labyrinth Template to do at home:

  • Click on the link below to download a template for a Chartres replica labyrinth.

  • Print as many as you like for your own use .

  • It is suggested you use colored pencils to do the labyrinth and then trace with your finger. A message from the Pacific Spirit United Spiritual Nurture Committee.

Engaging Compassion, Kindness and Love

 

  • “This is our time to be kind, to be calm, and to be safe.” - Dr Bonnie Henry, BC Provincial Health Officer

  • “So now these three remain: faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love” - 1 Cor. 13:13

  • “Compassion is the radicalism of our time.” - Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dali Lama   

  • “A religious person is a person who holds God and human in one thought… whose greatest passion is compassion …”. - Abraham Joshua Heschel, Jewish Theologian

  • “This is the time to reach out safely. Call your loved ones. Write a letter to a friend. Volunteer safely.” - Patty Hajdu, Federal Minister of Health

 

The above quotes give us many ideas on that it means to be kind and compassionate. Yet showing compassion can be uncomfortable, and particularly challenging in these times when we are not able to physically be with others.

 

This week’s spiritual practice on compassion is adapted from Lois Huey-Heck’s Going Beyond Words.

 

Pay attention: Compassion and kindness begins with paying attention. Think of someone in need or in pain, or a part of creation that is suffering. You might try to find or photo, picture, or an image from the internet to represent that pain. Or write a word, or phrase on a piece of paper. Something to hold your attention. Focus

Practice being present: Sit comfortably (but not too comfortably).  Be alert. Hold the image or word in your hand or look at it in front of you. Still your self, first taking a deep breath or two and then breathing gently. Be present.

Observe / Listen: As you become still, think of the details of the person or situation that is in need. What do you know about them? What is it that they might need? Deepen your seeing into the person or situation. What might they be saying to you? Listen See / Hear.

Feel: Invite yourself to have feelings about the person or situation. What feelings are arising in you? Be open to feel without judgement. Feel with this person or situation. Let feelings develop then pass. Be open to your feelings.

Do: Turn your attention again to the image or words. Allow your thoughts and feelings to be touched by kindness and love. Let that kindness and love flow through you towards the person or situation. Consider if there is there some way you should express your compassion? A note or card, a phone call, a delivery? Do something tangible this week.

BE KIND

A message from the Pacific Spirit United Spiritual Nurture Committee

Body Prayer

 

We like to study, learn about and discuss our faith. However, the Christian faith is not just an intellectual mind exercise. It is also about the heart and the body. We need to feel our faith and to act on it. Christians believe the birth of Jesus, marks in many ways, the incarnation, or the embodiment, of God on Earth. Jesus Christ is said to be the mystical “The Word became flesh.” (John 1:14)

Lois Huey-Heck, who helped our community of faith create our ‘Pacific Spirit” wall hanging, believes that “Although Christians continue to have differing interpretations of what it means for God to be “embodied” in Jesus Christ, the incarnation is not only about Jesus, it’s about every one of us.” Body prayers help us make our spiritual practice more physical, maybe more visceral, embodying our faith deeper within us. Even in these times of staying at home there are ways to be little more physical. The following body prayer is adapted from one by Tim Scorer, a Spiritual Director, who along with Lois is part of the leadership team of Pacific Jubilee.

Stand some place in your home (or outside if you are able). Make sure you are safe. You might want a chair nearby if you are unsteady. You can sit on a chair and make some modification if you need. Do the prayer slowly, intentionally.  Please click on the link below to see a visual presentation of the prayer.

 

VIDEO LINK

A Body Prayer for Now

  • Let your longing for the Divine lead you to your heart.

  • Let your love for Earth ground you in your humanity.

  • Open your heart to the gift of all creation.

  • Reach up to one side and gather in the sun, the day, the light.

  • Reach up to the other side and gather in the night, the darkness, the moon, the stars.

  • Reach out to one side and gather in the mountains, valleys, and prairies.

  • Reach to the other side and gather in the wind and rain, the lakes and rivers.

  • Reach down to the side and scoop up the soil and minerals.

  • Reach down to the other and scoop up vegetation, herbs and flowers.

  • Make a circle in front of you for your family, friends, and our community. Give them a virtual hug.

  • Reach a bit wider to make a circle for all those suffering from Covid, for those suffering in other ways, for those caring for them, for all those caring for us in so many ways.

  • Reach wider still for all of humanity and for all the creatures of the earth.

  • Bring all this to your gut, hold for a few moments, feel the sensation.

  • Give thanks to the Holy One as you turn slowly around.

  • Amen

 

A message from the Pacific Spirit United Spiritual Nurture Committee

Creation Walk

 

Many of us are walking outdoors for exercise. We recommend that you try once a week walking on your own, or at least in silence at a slower pace. Pay attention to Creation, blossoms, new plants, spring flowers, shapes of trees, colours of green; listen to the sounds of birds, maybe squirrels, maybe just the sound of the neighborhood; if you can walk along the Fraser River, Trout Lake, English Bay, watch the motion of the water, watch for geese (including new goslings), ducks, cormorants, herons, eagles; even try to pay attention to the smells of the plants, flowers, water, earth. In Ignation Spirituality this is called a Creation Walk. Some suggest almost a chant as you walk e.g., “Thank you for the diversity of Creation” or “Show me the beauty.” Others prefer not to be distracted by a chant. Whichever way you choose to walk, there can be blessings on the path.

 

A message from Pacific Spirit United Spiritual Nurture Committee

Thankfulness and Gratitude

 

These are times of a great deal of uncertainty, disruption, and isolation. We don’t know how long this phase of Covid 19 will last, when we will be able to resume our “normal” activities, what the new “normal” will look like, nor when we can gather face to face with friends, neighbours or as our community of faith. Thankfulness and gratitude may not be what comes to mind. However, we know that no matter what the difficulties, there are things that we are thankful for. We also know that as people of faith expressing our gratitude is one of the most meaningful spiritual practices. 1 Chronicles 16:34: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.” We want to suggest ways of practising gratitude in our challenging times. Try to find a smooth stone or small twig that you can hold in your hand. Keep your stick or stone in a visible place through the day. As you walk or sit turn you mind to what you are thankful for. We are certainly hearing many thanks (including the 7 pm bell ringing and pot banging) for all those who work in our health care system, and those who work in essential services including grocery stores and delivery drivers. Give your stone or twig a gentle squeeze. What else are you thankful today? The new dawn? Our planet getting a respite from pollution? Someone who gave you a phone call or sent you a note? A piece of music or a poem? A flower in the garden? A close friend or family member? Spend a few minutes every day with your stone or stick and think of five things you are thankful for. Give your stone or stick a gentle squeeze for each. Try to add one or two each day that are different than the day before. Some people might prefer to keep a little “gratitude journal” where they record in more complete thoughts or sentences the things they are thankful for each day. This way they can look back for patterns or changes in their expressions of gratitude. Either way it is the intentional expression of our gratitude that will help sustain each one of us.

A message from Pacific Spirit United Spiritual Nurture Committee

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