13And suddenly there was with the angel
a multitude of the heavenly host,* praising God and saying,
14 ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’*
God speaks to us in many ways–through relationships, our experiences, sacred texts such as the Bible and many more. Like Lectio Divina is Latin for divine reading, Visio Divina is Latin for divine seeing, praying with images to listen to God’s words. Think of Visio Divina as if you were putting on God-glasses to see how an image illuminates the Christ within you. Like Lectio Divina, Latin for divine reading, Visio Divina has four steps: Use the above painting by a Dutch artist Nicolaes Berchem painted around 1650, titled Annunciation to the Shepherds.
- Look slowly and carefully at the painting, taking a first glance noting the colors, people, places and things. Remain with the image for one to two minutes. We are preparing for the celebration of the birth of the Christ Child, how does the paint help you prepare? If you would like, jot down a few words about the image in your journal.
- Now take deeper second look. Where is there movement? What relationships do you see? Engage your imagination. Place yourself in the painting; are you a shepherd, a sheep, or angel? What do you see from that perspective? What emotions rise up for you? If you were a sheep what might you feel? If you were a shepherd how would you respond to the message of the angels? What else do you feel, or see in the painting? If you would like jot down your thoughts and feelings in your journal
- Respond to the image with prayer. Did the image remind you of an experience, person or issue for which you’d like to offer thanksgiving or intercession? Offer that prayer to God.
- Find your quiet center. Breathe deeply. Relax your shoulders, arms and legs. Rest in this quiet. Let God pray in you. God prays beyond words.
May the song of the angels be with you as you go about your preparations for Christmas.
Ruth Jewell, ©December 9, 2014