Monthly Archives: February 2011

Divine Seeing

this post is part of february’s synchroblog – a bunch of bloggers writing on the same topic at the same time.  this month’s topic is creativity & christianity.  check out the links at the bottom of this post; they are a great mix of different voices.


The Holy Spirit speaks many languages, among them the languages
of art in all its forms. Frank Griswold

Art often speaks to us subliminally: sub-liminally, ‘below the threshold’ of our conscious awareness. It helps us to see the unseeable and know the unknowable, ushering us into the realm of the transcendent. Lucy Shaw

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.


Visio Divina is Latin for “Divine Seeing” and is a contemplative prayer practice that is intended to create an openness within us in order to experience God – his presence, his love, his healing – so we may become more fully human – who we were created to be – our real selves, our Christ like selves, our created in the image of God selves.

The ancient Christian practice of Lectio Divina consists of the meditative reading of the Bible which leads to prayer and reflection on the meaning of scripture. Visio Divina is rooted in the sixth-century contemplative Benedictine practice of Lectio Divina (Divine Reading) in which one meditates on a passage of scripture allowing the Spirit to speak through the story. Like Lectio Divina, Visio Divina is a contemplative prayer practice but instead of meditating on words one meditates on images.

Choose an image and find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Take a few moments to open your heart and mind to God. When you are ready slowly look at the image. Take your time to let feelings and thoughts come to you as you take in the forms, figures, colors, lines, textures, and shapes of the image. Think about what it looks like, or what it reminds you of. Ask yourself what you find yourself drawn to. What do you like and not like? Pay attention to thoughts and feelings that emerge as you gaze upon and examine the image.

In this initial stage of your prayer simply notice these responses without judgment or evaluation. If you don’t like the image, or the feelings evoked, simply acknowledge that this is your initial response and continue to stay open to the image and the prayer. If you have an immediate idea as to what the image means, again, simply acknowledge that this is your initial response and stay open to the prayer.

As your prayer expands, return to the image with an open heart and mind. New thoughts, meanings, and feelings may arise; initial impressions may expand and deepen. Take time to explore more fully the meanings that come to you, and the feelings associated with the image and its colors and forms. Be aware of any assumptions or expectations that you bring to the image. No matter what your response is to the image — delight, disgust, indifference, confusion — ponder prayerfully the reason for your various responses and what these responses might mean for you.

As your prayer deepens, open yourself to what the image might reveal to you. What does it and the Spirit want to say, evoke, make known, or express to you as you attend to it in quiet meditation? Become aware of the feelings, thoughts, desires, and meanings evoked by the image and how they are directly connected to your life.
Does it evoke for you important meanings or values, remind you of an important event or season, or suggest a new or different way of being? What desires and longings are evoked in your prayer? How do you find yourself wanting to respond to what you are experiencing?

Take the time to respond to God in ways commensurate with your prayer: gratitude, supplication, wonder, lament, confession, dance, song, praise, etc.

In the remaining few minutes of your prayer with this image, bring to mind or jot down in a journal (whatever way is most helpful for you) the insights you want to remember, actions you are invited to take, wisdom you hope to embody, or any feelings or thoughts you wish to express. Bring your prayer to a close by resting in God’s grace and love.


This post is part of the February synchroblog: Creativity and Christianity.
Check out the other synchroblog contributors: