Recently I attended a retreat with a small group of women with whom I share a passion for living life more intentionally, with more purpose, and in a way that serves others. We planned mental exercises to help us leave behind the responsibilities of everyday life and focus on what makes us tick. One activity resulted in such unexpected insight and feelings of peace that I want to share it with you – a spiritual practice called Visio Divina which means divine seeing.
On a table were a multitude of images torn from magazines. We were guided to walk around this table until an image connected with us and then sat in silence for 10 minutes and wrote what we saw and why that image spoke to us.
Here is my Visio Divina:
In beautiful mountains and nature is where I want to spend more time because that is where I feel much peace and closest to God. Never a dull moment when I am in the midst of His creation. The sound of nature – the perfectly in-tune melodies of the birds, insects, crickets and frogs, and the whispering of the wind as it hits the trees and grass – is music for my soul.
I am in awe of everything I see and feel. Mountains like the one in this picture amaze me. Giant mounds rising from the earth, reaching for the sky, painted by plants, trees, rocks, wildflowers and snow. At its base is a lake – God’s nourishment. The terrain closest to the water is healthy, lush and rich. As the land ascends and life in the soil stretches farther away from the water, the more barren the land becomes.
Like me, like people, the further away from our source of nourishment, the more barren we become.
The closer I am to God, the more my soul is nourished and the more I hear His voice and the voices of people I love – my deceased father, my daughter, and sometimes people I know who are suffering. Nature echoes their distant voices, filling me with gratitude for the ability to hear them and reminding me to lift them up in prayer.
Like roots nourishing the mountain, so too does God when we make time to seek Him. The roots of the mountain go deep which makes everything grow strong enough to withstand the storms and the earth’s occasional sway. No matter how barren we may sometimes feel, like the mountain, God is always near, ready to replenish us, to give us strength to go on.
For many, finding quiet time with God and peace time for our souls through prayer, meditation or journaling can be a real challenge. I can’t tell you how many of my journals have extended periods of missing entries, and prayers interrupted by to-do lists or dozing off. Yep, I’m guilty. But, this exercise forced me to shut the world out and put myself in the middle of what I was seeing. I encourage you to do the same and explore what you see. Be delighted and calmed by the words that come to you.
Whether you’re on summer vacation and sitting in a heavenly place conducive to reflection or you’re sitting on a park bench during a lunch break watching the world in motion, grab your journal and pen your Visio Divina. You’ll be amazed at what it can do for your heart, mind and soul.