Practice Visio Divina

Image from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope of the Lagoon Nebula. April, 2018

The imagination works through suggestion, not description. Description is always direct and frequently closes off what it names. Suggestion respects the mystery and richness of a thing. All it offers are clues to its nature. Suggestion keeps the mystery open and extends us the courtesy of inviting us to see the thing for ourselves. It offers us the hospitality and freedom to trust the integrity of our own encounter with a thing. This is how a work of art can allow itself to be seen in so many different and often conflicting ways. It does not foreclose on the adventure of revelation. —John O’Donohue [1]

“Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler offers a wonderful invitation into visio divina (or sacred seeing). I invite you to use the image for this week’s meditations, at the top of this message, as a window into your own soul and the Divine.

Visio Divina facilitates a relationship with an image or subject, patiently being with it, receptive in mind and heart, perhaps even in dialogue with it. In stillness, we allow the image to reach beyond the intellect and into the unconscious level of our being, a place that can’t be accessed directly. In wonder, we are invited to look at every aspect of an image and ponder it as an encounter with God. It is a way of seeing an aspect of ourselves in God at the non-verbal, heart level. The canvas then becomes alive with personal meaning meant just for us. This is the same movement of the Spirit we can experience with Lectio Divina and Scripture.

Take the time to gaze at an image and allow it to speak to you, first on the level of what is seen with the eyes of your rational mind, the literal details of the image. When you are ready, allow those sights and thoughts to pass by, making space for the inner eye of the heart to open and interact with the image. You may wish to sketch the image and experience your own non-verbal response. You do not have to be an artist to do this—you simply follow the lines as you see them, tracing them on paper. Or, you may trace the image with your finger, or both. Be patient. Stay with your experience. Settle in and rest in the presence of the image. See beyond seeing and allow the image to speak its truth to you. You may also journal, and/or use these questions to inspire your reflections: How does this image inform or illume your relationship with God? How does it speak to you of your spiritual journey now? How does this experience support your willingness to be opened, to be healed?” -Richard Rohr 

[1] John O’Donohue, Beauty: The Invisible Embrace (HarperCollins: 2004), 147-148.

Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler, “The Practice of Visio Divina: Seeing with the Eye of the Heart,” Contemplative Outreach News, vol. 31, no. 2 (2015), 2-3, https://www.contemplativeoutreach.org/sites/default/files/newsletter-pdf/2015-june-newsletter.pdf.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *