Listen carefully, my son, to the master’s instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart. -Rule of St. Benedict, Prologue
Listen—the first word in the Rule of St. Benedict. Listening is the essence of Benedictine spirituality and the inimitable path to unity with God.
Lectio Divina, translated as divine reading, is a Benedictine practice of seeking deeper meaning in words and stories. It is listening to what lies beneath the words.
The practice of Visio Divina another kind of listening using art or images can help one intuit spiritual guidance from the still, small voice of inner wisdom. One can use sacred Scriptures, spiritual reading, song lyrics, icons, art, and collage to listen “with the ear of your heart.”
I am still learning. -Michaelangelo
Life, itself, is a listening practice. In our daily living, we can practice divine seeing. I find myself circling back to life lessons, sort of a “life lectio.” Over time there are new revelations and epiphanies —I am still learning. The miracle is that when one looks, there is seeing. When one asks, there are answers. Here is one such experience.
“If you know and have been affected by your dreams you will feel in yourself a thread of meaning and purpose that is part of something much bigger than yourself. This is the faith that lives in me.”–John A. Sanford, Dreams: God’s Forgotten Language
Several years ago, in a dream, the words “Just float” and an image came to me. I had been experiencing many worries and concerns and it was a comforting message. My dreaming self was telling me to release my anxiety, or at least to just let it lie for a while. But it’s not easy to “just float” when one is resistant, when one wants to manage, to fix, to control.
Simply letting go seems too easy. I journaled, “As a child learning to swim, it’s frightening when a trusted teacher lets you go, when slowly they take their hands from beneath you. You sense support is gone; all your muscles tighten. You wonder, did I really trust this teacher? For a split second, you panic, and your body rejects even the one you trust to hold you up, to save you. But you will not sink; your teacher would not let that happen.
You are being taught how to trust. You will not sink if you just trust your body, your instincts. Once you lie back and rest, you are held, not by the teacher, but by the water. It is a mystery that one is truly held.”
This dream was so powerful to me—really, an antidote for what ailed me. I created a SoulCollage® card as a reminder to Just Float. I wrote,
“So when you feel like you’re sinking, just float.
Lie back and rest. You will be held. God is standing beside you. You will not sink.
You are being gently guided, gently down the stream.”
Those life experiences were teaching me to trust God. But divine seeing isn’t once and done. Again, I find myself overwhelmed with incessant thoughts (life keeps giving, right?) Seeking peace and sanctuary, I gather material to share at the Sprigs of Rosemary retreat—songs, readings, quotes, stories, art, symbols, and so on.
I discover a contemplative song to guide a silent creative session called “Move Slowly”, a meditation narrated by James Finley, set to the music of Alana Levandoski from the album “Sanctuary: Exploring the Healing Path.” I re-discover the image from my dream of years ago—just waiting at the surface to suffuse me once more with peace, trust, and resilience.
Follow the link above for “Move Slowly” (it may be on the right side under Top Tracks), or you can download it at Alana’s website. Follow along with the lyrics below.
“Move Slowly” Alana Levandoski, singing:
Move slowly, move slowly, move slowly into deep water.
You are safe with me, no longer thrown out to sea.
Now it’s time to breathe.
James Finley, speaking:
It is necessary to go out into deep water ‘cause that’s where the pain is. But in order for it to be safe to do that, it’s so important first to learn how to float in shallow water. Because to learn how to float in shallow water, is to learn to be vulnerable and safe at the same time. So once you have that feeling, it’s what lets you move out into deeper water, knowing if it gets too deep, too fast, you know how to find your way back again and get re-grounded. Not to run in the other direction, but just to get restored to head back out where you need to go. And that willingness to do that over and over and over again is what sets you free, and that’s really a lot of what this journey’s all about. Little, by little, by little, grace, by grace, by grace, you learn that floating in shallow water is the same as floating in deep water.
James Finley and Alana Levandoski, Sanctuary: Exploring the Healing Path (Cantus Productions: 2016), CD. Used with permission
Practice Visio Divina with the “Just Float” card and Lectio Divina the lyrics of “Move Slowly”. Listen—deeply see, deeply read, let the words settle on your heart. Let the Divine speak to you in your life circumstances.
Is there a lesson you have learned, but need to revisit?
Is God taking you into deep waters to remind you that you can trust in the Divine always?
Are you being reminded that God is God and you are not?