On July 17th we began a six-week summertime contemplative series based on the work of Christine Valters Painter. We’ll pause on the series when I’m away from the pulpit for three Sundays, and then resume it mid-August through mid-September.
Our focus in this series will be her work titled, “Earth: our Original Monastery: Cultivating Wonder and Gratitude through Intimacy with Nature.”
While Valter-Paintner’s book is not required reading to fully experience this series, in it she gives further inspiration on spiritual practices and ways to connect and listen to God, ourself, and nature that some of you may want to pursue.
Our services will use contemplative prayer practice, filled with many more pauses and moments of silence than our typical service. These approaches a way of stepping into a sacred space and time of communion and deep listening with God. Silence and stillness is initiated so that we might open up to sensing through ‘present moment’ practices.
In our American culture, we are often moving at a blurring speed in mind and body, but practicing stillness slows us to the speed of breath and allows us to move into awareness of being held by God. We allow God access, we allow God to name us and identify us, we allow God and creation to speak, and then, we listen for the inner and outer prompting of God.
We listen ‘in the present’ for guidance on our wholeness path.
As a part of the contemplative approach, we’ll be using the practices of Lectio Divina and Lectio Visio in our worship together.
Lectio Divina is a core ancient monastic prayer and meditation practice in contemplative spiritual life used to deepen a person’s experience of a written material such as Scripture, written blessings or laments, or poetry.
It is a Latin phrase that means “sacred reading” or “holy listening” that works like a layering or an unraveling God stirs within our hearts. It requires a slow, prayerful approach to words or listening, silence to allow God to speak, and questions that prompt you to go deeper.
Visio Divina refers to holy seeing, or sacred attention. Just as we learn to listen or hear with our hearts, so we can learn to see or attend with our hearts. Visio Divina follows similar movements of the traditional Lectio Divina.
As a part of this, what’s traditionally been used as the sermon time will be used in part for shared reflections and silence. I’ll provide questions, or prompts, into which you’ll be invited into your own musings and wonderings. As the series progresses, we may begin to share with one another what we’re hearing and receiving as responses.
Our hope is that you are blessed with more presence of God and yourself as you move through this series and this season of summer. That you would hear Earth’s wisdom and reaching for reciprocal relationship.
May you soften and open to your innermost self, and may find your place in the blessed eternal current of God that unites and enlivens all things.
(Some of this language was taken from the guide offered by The Work of the People.)