‘Emmaus’ by Emmanuel Garibay, 2000.

Visio Divina – ‘An inclusive inn’

When we meet for monthly meditation we follow various practices, including Visio Divina (divine seeing). This is a form of meditation that makes use of an icon, painting, photograph or scene. We usually allow an hour for the meditation.

Emmanuel Garibay’s painting ‘Emmaus’ (2000) was the focus of our meditation in August. We read from Luke 24. The meditation elicited various responses:

We were drawn to the female Christ figure, Christ in a red dress, the red ceiling, the rosy cheeks of the men … astonished … reminded of many impressive women in politics and society.

We felt included, warmed by the scene, the conversation and laughter. We wondered about the bread, which is not depicted in the painting. Perhaps the table itself signifies the bread.

God whispers, “Come to the table” … “You belong, you have always belonged.”

The following guidelines (from https://www.prayerandpossibilities.com/pray-with-eyes-of-the-heart-visio-divina/) can be adapted for different occasions.

Find an image for prayer
You can use any type of image for Visio Divina. You might use images found in your church – a religious painting, a stained-glass window, or an icon.

Prepare your heart for prayer
Before you begin, choose your image and have it visible – either be near it in person or have the image pulled up on your phone or computer.

You may want to begin your time in prayer with a scripture reading. If you’re using a religious image, use the scripture related to that image. Or, use a Scripture from the day’s lectionary reading or just a favourite you want to pray.

Allow the image to speak to your heart
Open your eyes and look at the image you’ve selected. Let your eyes pause and focus on the part of the image they’re first drawn to.

Gaze upon just that part of the image for a minute or two. Then close your eyes, still seeing that part of the image in your mind.

Reflect on the entire image
Open your eyes and now look upon the whole image. Gaze upon all of the image, allowing it to draw forth a word, an emotion, or an image in your heart.

What do you hear God whispering into your heart? What thoughts or questions are raised? What emotions do you feel?

Continue to gaze and reflect as long as you need to, then briefly close and rest your eyes.

Pray through the image
Open your eyes. While looking upon the image, respond to God. Pray through the words, images, emotions, questions and thoughts that are now on your heart.

Continue to look upon the image as you pray. Then, close and rest your eyes briefly.

Rest and reflect in God
As you close out your time in prayer, open your eyes and gaze again upon the image. Rest in God’s presence as you reflect upon this prayer experience.

Consider how you’ll take this into your life. You may choose to journal about your experience.