Divine Reading

 Today is the eighth day of Lent. For Christians, the forty days leading to Easter are a time to prepare for the holiest day of the Church year, the celebration of Christ’s resurrection. Many Christians observe Lent by giving up something such as chocolate, smoking, or social media. Others take on a spiritual discipline such as centering prayer. I wondered if there was a spiritual discipline centered around reading. There is.  Lectio divina, divine reading, is a form of prayer that dates to the sixth century. The technique is simple. Read, reflect, respond, rest. First, select a reading. Go someplace quiet and read the passage aloud. Notice if a particular word or phrase stands out or touches you. Reflect on the special feeling or insight. Reread the passage and converse with God in response to what you read. Rest. Lectio divina is specifically a form of Christian contemplative prayer. However, the technique could be applied to secular reading. How often have you come across a passage—a sentence or a paragraph—in a book or short story that struck you as powerful, that stayed with you long after you finished reading? The next time this happens, pause. Read the passage aloud and reflect on it. Notice how it makes you feel, reflect on your reaction. Read the passage aloud again and discuss your reaction with yourself. Write down your response. Or go ahead and talk it out. No one’s judging. What techniques have you used to deepen your understanding of, or connection to, what you read?

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