<i>Lectio Divina</i>—The Sacred Art: Transforming Words & Images into Heart-Centered Prayer

Whether you want to start a contemplative prayer practice or deepen your experience of lectio divina in new ways, you are invited to savor the gifts lectio divina has to offer your heart and spirit.

Christine Valters Paintner, PhD

5½ x 8½, 240 pp | 978-1-59473-300-0

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Nurture your inner monk & surrender to the natural grace & rhythm of your heart's deepest longings.

“The whole world is, in fact, a text of sacred revelation. All experience has the potential to be revelatory, and God is singing one unending song seducing each of our hearts. So the call is to listen, to attune to the words God utters in the world.”

—from the Afterword

Break open this ancient contemplative practice of listening deeply for God's voice in sacred texts. Drawing on her own experience as a monk in the world, Christine Valters Paintner introduces the foundations for a practice of lectio divina. She closely examines each of the four movements of lectio divina as well as the rhythm they create when practiced as a process. She then invites you to expand your practice beyond traditional sacred texts to a sacred reading of the world through image, sound, nature, and life experience.

Whether you want to start a contemplative prayer practice or deepen your experience of lectio divina in new ways, you are invited to savor the gifts lectio divina has to offer your heart and spirit.

“Creative ... very practical ... Paintner wants us to experience the joys of our inner monk and artist.”

Spirituality & Practice

“Gives readers a glimpse of the rich possibilities for modern pilgrims who want to live more mindfully and in closer connection with God.”

United Methodist Reporter

“With perceptiveness and grace … revitalizes an ancient way of reading the universe. A beautiful reminder that, if only we can slow down enough to see again, the heavens are still reflecting the glory of God.”

Paula Huston, author, By Way of Grace: Moving from Faithfulness to Holiness

“A highly practical resource! As a regular lectio practitioner and group facilitator, I enthusiastically recommend this book for both private and communal use. The applications are rich, creative, and expansive!”

Wil Hernandez, PhD, spiritual director; author, Henri Nouwen and Spiritual Polarities: A Life of Tension

“Draws on a wealth of experience and knowledge…. Opens rich new possibilities for lectio divina practice. An excellent resource, it will find a permanent place on my shelves and be taken down frequently.”

Nancy L. Bieber, author, Decision Making and Spiritual Discernment: The Sacred Art of Finding Your Way

“Reveals how one of the central practices of ancient Christian spirituality remains meaningful and relevant for the third millennium. More than a mere introduction to sacred reading—it’s a creative and holistic invitation to a deeper spiritual life.”

Carl McColman, author, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism

“Compellingly invites us to ‘wake up’ to God’s presence in every moment. Shows how to listen and see all life in a contemplative way, leading to an awareness of the divine shimmering in the nooks and crannies of everyday.”

Dr. Nancy Copeland Payton, author, Losses of Our Lives: The Sacred Gifts of Renewal in Everyday Loss

“Delve[s] into [lectio’s] historic and linguistic roots, and remind[s] us that a ‘shimmering’ phrase may disturb as well as delight us…. Taps the ‘inner monk’ in each of us.”

Kent Ira Groff, founding mentor, Oasis Ministries; author, What Would I Believe If I Didn’t Believe Anything? and Facing East, Praying West

“A heart-centered engagement with sacred texts and the holiness in all of life—an invitation to the most interesting conversation you will ever have.”

Margaret D. McGee, author, Haiku—The Sacred Art: A Spiritual Practice in Three Lines

Introduction ix

Part One
Beginning Our Exploration of Lectio Divina

Chapter 1 Sacred Reading
Listening for a Sacred Word 3
Invitation to Practice Lectio Divina 11
Suggested Texts for Lectio Divina: The Power of Words 13
For Reflection 16

Chapter 2 At the Heart of Lectio Divina: Benedictine
Spirituality and Heart-Centered Prayer 17
Invitation to Practice: Heart-Centered Prayer 22
Suggested Texts for Lectio Divina: Heart 25
For Reflection 27

Chapter 3 The Role of Spiritual Practice
Cultivating Ways of Being in the World 29
Invitation to Practice: Commitment 40
Suggested Texts for Lectio Divina: Wisdom 44
For Reflection 45

Chapter 4 "Give Me a Word"
Choosing Texts for Lectio Divina 47
Invitation to Practice: Varying Translations 56
Invitation to Practice: Learn by Heart 58
Suggested Texts for Lectio Divina: Encountering the Sacred 58
For Reflection 60

Part Two
The Four Movements of Lectio Divina

Chapter 5 Listening for God's Voice
Lectio’≥ Call to Awaken to the Divine 63
Invitation to Practice: Shimmering 71
Further Possibilities for Practice
Using a Mantra 75
Synchronicity 76
Writing 76
Poetry Exploration: Haiku 76
Suggested Texts for Lectio Divina: Listening 77
For Reflection 79

Chapter 6 Savoring Sacred Text
Meditatio’≥ Welcoming with All Senses 81
Invitation to Practice: Savoring and Stirring 94
Further Possibilities for Practice Savoring Life 96
Poetry Exploration: Cinquain 98
Suggested Texts for Lectio Divina: Praying with the Senses and with Sorrow 99
For Reflection 101

Chapter 7 Summoning Your True Self
Hearing Oratio’≥ Call of the Spirit 103
Invitation to Practice: Summoning and Serving 116
Further Possibilities for Practice Finding a Soul Friend 118
Poetry Exploration: The Acrostic Poem 119
Suggested Text for Lectio Continua: Invitation 120
For Reflection 122

Chapter 8 The Gift of Being: Resting in
Contemplatio’≥ Stillness and Silence 123
Invitation to Practice: Slowing and Stilling 136
Further Possibilities for Practice
Poetry Exploration: 7-Line Poem 139
Suggested Texts for Lectio Divina: Silence 140
For Reflection 142

Part Three
Reading the World

Chapter 9 Visio Divina: Praying with Images 145
Invitation to Practice: Visio Divina 149
Further Possibilities for Practice
Art Exploration: Collage 152
Art Exploration: Mandala 155
For Reflection 156

Chapter 10 Audio Divina: Praying with Sound 157
Invitation to Practice: Audio Divina 162
Further Possibilities for Practice
Heartbeat of Lectio 164
Toning 165
Chant 165
For Reflection 166

Chapter 11 Nature as Sacred Text 167
Invitation to Practice: Lectio Divina with Nature 171
Further Possibilities for Practice
Nature as Icon 173
For Reflection 174

Chapter 12 The Sacred Stories of Our Lives 175
Invitation to Practice: Lectio with Life Experience 177
Further Possibilities for Practice
Praying Lectio with the Body 180
Praying Lectio with Dreams 180
Praying Lectio with the Newspaper 181
For Reflection 182

Afterword: The Divine Presence Is Everywhere 183
Acknowledgments 187
Appendix 1: Retreat Experience 188
Appendix 2: Lectio Divina as a Small Group Experience 191
Appendix 3: Mandala 197
Notes 198
Suggested Resources 203