‘The Lights in the Tree’ by Idris Murphy, 2021.
Visio Divina – ‘Silent strength’
We met for our monthly mediation following the practice of Visio Divina (divine seeing). It is related to the prayer form Lectio Divina (divine reading), but instead of Scripture, this form of prayer uses visual elements to help set your mind on prayer. It allows God to speak through the image.
This form of prayer has been used throughout the centuries, more prevalent in Catholic and Eastern Orthodox communities where icons are often used in prayer. But now, it is being adopted by faith communities from all traditions.
We read from Psalm 105:1-7.
Our meditation elicited various responses. We were drawn to the play of light across the land, and reflections on the lake or pool, and the way it morphed into what looked like flames on banks.
The way we regard the bush, and the way the bush regards us, was a common theme in our conversation. Light creates reflection. Water turns to fire. And we reflected on the many paths for many journeys.
The walking paths, or possibly fences, drew our eye and wonder – we reflected on creatures of the land and bush, how they were drawn to water. We saw in the pool a reference to a reptile’s eye looking back to us.
Strength was seen in various ways in the scene. From the elephantine cliffs to the strong silent tree with intricate branches incised into paint to reveal the aluminium substrate.
God calls us to be with and in the landscape. We were reminded that we are part of nature, and that God is within the natural environment.
You are invited to participate in your own practice of Visio Divina.
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.