Wisdom

Wisdom Moment in Lectio Divina.

“Wisdom” is not a word that we hear so much of today and yet it is central to our experience of Lectio Divina.  The goal of Lectio is not only to make us more loving, in the sense of growing in the attitudes and actions of Jesus, but it is also meant to make us wiser, in the sense of growing with the understanding and perception of  Jesus, as St Paul says “putting on the mind and heart of Jesus.” The wisdom received from Lectio is not a learning from books, not an academic learning in that sense, but a learning from life-experience,  as illuminated and interpreted by the Word of God in sacred scripture.  It has been well described as the “Aha!” moment of Lectio Divina: “Now I see it!” The “wisdom” of the passage might have traditionally been described as the “message” it contains, and in the reading of scripture in the past that was all that mattered.  But in Lectio “the message” is only a small part of the nourishment that a passage contains.   With Lectio we experience the joy of discovering this wisdom for ourselves. We experience it as our own work, our own discovery. It is one of the fruits of our journey with the passage.  It is like a ripe fruit on the tree of Lectio Divina that is only waiting for us to grasp. Every time we journey with a passage, following the method of Lectio, we are meant to come to the wisdom moment.  But it takes time and effort to uncover and articulate the wisdom of a passage for ourselves.  It can be helpful to work on this formulation of the wisdom statement together as a community. In the context of a Lectio Community we ask ourselves the questions:  What living lesson has our journey with this passage taught us about life’s meaning, purpose and values?  What new insight have we received into any of these?  How has our understanding of “life” grown through our meditation on this passage?  What is the “truth” or what are “the truths” (as there may be a number of them) that emerge from our journey with this passage? What is it that we see happening over again in the passage and in our offerings? What is the “movement” that repeats itself? What is the common thread or pattern that repeats itself? And we are encouraged to put this into our own words and formulate a statement.  What the statement does, then, is to extract “a truth” that we find both in the passage and in some of the offerings, and summarises what they have in common.   Therefore, this “statement of truth” can be verified by the various instances of it that we have recognized in the passage and in our various meditations. There are several hallmarks that can guide us in the formulation of the wisdom statement.
  • It is expressed in the form of a short statement but not a moralizing one.
  • The wisdom statement will always be universally true, i.e. true for people of all religions and none, therefore not just for Christians or even less for Catholics alone. The Good News of Jesus is for all of humanity and seeks to bring us into greater solidarity with all our brothers and sisters.
  • The wisdom statement will be true for individuals, as well as communities, and true in every sphere of life.
  • As a statement about “ life,” “ love” etc. it will have all the flavour and power of life experience.  In other words the statement will be borne out of the belly of experience.
  • The wisdom statement is experienced as a gift, and fills us with a deep sense of gratitude, and gives rise to a prayer of gratitude.
  • It is also experienced as a new insight, either totally new, or partially new.  I’m seeing it, as it were, for the first time. And so it can give rise to a prayer of humility and repentance – How come I didn’t see this before?
  • It also generates a longing or deep desire to see the truth expressed in this wisdom statement becoming a reality in our own lives and our world.  How different our lives and our world would be if we were to put this into practice? We experience a desire and commitment to grow in the actual living out of this wisdom statement in our lies.  Again this can lead to a heartfelt prayer of petition.
 Finally, we are invited to ponder the wisdom statement, to savour it, to linger over it, to delight in it, to love it, to allow it to take root in us and become part of us. Trusting that this seed will in God’s own time and in God’s own way bear fruit in us. Since theology has been defined as “Faith seeking understanding” (St. Anselm, 4thc), and since Lectio Divina is a means of growing in our understanding of God, humanity, world – as interpreted in the light of faith and celebrated in the Wisdom Moments, then it is reasonable to conclude that Lectio is clearly a method of doing theology as well. Furthermore, the goal of theology is wisdom and as we have seen one of the precious fruits of Lectio is wisdom.  For a long time the study of theology was only available for the privileged few, with the required means and qualifications, but now through the practice of Lectio Divina it is becoming an activity of the whole Christian community, as God has always intended it to be.  It is part of that great work of God in lifting up the lowly, by enabling us to discover and express the great truths of life for ourselves.