Sunday, March 25, 2012

March into April

Highlights from our March discussion on Chapter 3
To start off, we read:

The Better Part 
by Rachael A. Keefe from her book of Lenten reflections, negotiating the shadows, p. 47-49
Show me this path of life
  that leads to fullness of joy
    in the pleasures of your presence.

    I want to sit as Mary sat
    at Your feet

By another's account
  Martha clearly saw
    what others could not
      and recognized You
in her moment of loss and despair.

          How could her everyday distractions
          turn her attention from sitting with You?

          What did it matter
          that her house was not clean
          and dinner was late
          when You walked through her door?
      Did she worry about disappointing You
      so much that she forgot You
      accept her—no perfection
          of house, food, or self

How did Mary know
  to be still
  and listen?

          What did she hear that Martha did not?

          Walk through my door today.
        Call me from my tasks.
        The worries and distractions of my day
     drown out the still small voice of You.

          Pursuing perfection
          demands more than I want to give
          with too great a price.

Show me Your path
to let go of worry and distraction
to know what is needful
and to choose the better part.

Lively discussion ensued, prompted by seemingly high proportion of attendees who identify with Martha in realizing that someone has to do the cleaning and cook the food.
Summary is that we generally approved of Martha's actions, it was her whining we didn't like, and yet we would like a different ending to that story. (Everyone goes the kitchen and helps, for example.) Remembering our visit the Harvard museums exhibit of the house in the time of Jesus made us realize that crowding into the kitchen may not have been an option, though.

Insights about cleaning and de-cluttering
In response to a remark one person made that cleaning didn't help her feel close to God, another shared this insight: "Getting rid of the clutter helps me to feel not so nudgy; it finds the things that get in the way of a relationship with God; so that contributes to my peace of mind, which brings me close to God."

Another said: "When I cleaned in silence, rather than with music or TV or radio on, I found that my thoughts did turn to God more often while I was cleaning, and I became more focused."

Our favorite quote from this chapter:
God is like that, repairing the world all the time. Even though it’s hard for me to see the spiritual value in menial household chores, there’s something deeply Christian about them. In a brilliant book about the theology of housekeeping, Margaret Kim Peterson says that it’s precisely the never-ending nature of household tasks such as cooking that makes them “so akin to the providential work of God.” Every day, every person in the household needs to be fed—again. We feed them with the knowledge that tomorrow morning, they will wake up hungry and we’ll have to repeat the whole cycle.
Peterson says that our constant round of housework and God’s initial act of creation have something in common: both are about bringing order from chaos. But God doesn’t just put our earthly home into motion and let things take their course; he’s constantly playing housekeeper.
Riess, Jana (2011-09-24). Flunking Sainthood: A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray and Still Loving My Neighbor (Kindle Locations 601-607). Paraclete Press. Kindle Edition.

April: Lectio divination

We tried a sample of lectio divina with Matthew 11:28-30,
  • reading (lectio)
  • and then praying about the scripture, (oratio)
  • reading and listening for one line or phrase that caught our hearts and meditating on that line, (meditatio)
  • reading and contemplating how we could make that scripture part of our lives. (contemplatio)

We agreed that during April we would try lectio divina, reading a passage of scripture aloud and meditating on what struck our hearts, praying for more insight and connection, and contemplating how the scripture might move into our lives.

Options for Daily Bible Reading with Audio
Here are some links for audio scripture, so that someone else could read the scripture aloud to you:

Conference of Catholic Bishops Daily reading, and audio of that reading

Daily Audio Bible: Reading the Bible through in a Year (with commentary)

 Our Daily Bread—A Reflection and then a Bible reading

If you want to search for a passage on your own and then hear the audio, try Bible Gateway--it is only by chapter at a time, but good readers.

This is a Lutheran daily reading plan, no audio.

Other Links:

Some of my experiences, exercises and notes about Lectio Divina from the Adult Ed sessions I did several years ago.

The Order of Saint Benedict: Lectio Divina
(Not all of their links work, so I've listed the ones that do below)

The Cloud of Unknowing, chapter 35 (anonymous 14th-century English author).

Armand Nigro, SJ, and John Veltri, SJ, Praying with Scripture.

The Ladder of Four Rungs. 54K text, 140K graphics.

Lectio with poetry or with other readings besides the Bible

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