Lectio Divina or “divine reading” is basically the practice of really studying a passage from the Bible by reading it repeatedly, each time meditating on what wordstruck you. My fellow catechumens and I tried it yesterday at our retreat, and I must admit, I was skeptical at first. Bible passages have often puzzled and annoyed me, stated as they are in antique language structure, telling tales of miracles I don’t really understand the need for. But I was familiar with the story of Lazarus being brought back to life, and when we read it the first time, “Take away the stone” stuck in my mind, followed by, “Lazarus come out.” These were the instructions of Jesus.
What these words meant to me had to do with the hardness of heart I developed at an early age, going from school to school and country to country as “camp follower” to my father’s Army career. Then, it hardened further as a shield after his untimely death, and finally not feeling anything for others became a habit deeply ingrained as relationships broke down in disappointment. I have struggled to lower my defenses in recent years, and have been made aware of the rock in my chest repeatedly by lovers and friends. I tried to change, but without the love of God, my efforts were in vain.
Now, with Jane’s help and an openness to spiritual guidance, passages become meaningful, such as Ezekiel 36:26 – “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” The stone is being reduced to gravel, paving the way for Love.
Welcome empathy, welcome compassion, welcome sympathy, welcome true love.