This is the second of 6 Visio Divina Meditations, as an alternative to New Years Resolutions.
The Benedictine Value of Work through Visio Divina (Divine Seeing)
The Rule of Benedict says, “When they live by the labor of their hands . . . then they are really monastics.” In Benedictine spirituality the purpose of work is life sustaining, work nurtures and serves. The Sisters of Saint Benedict’s Monastery tell us in a brochure about Joseph O’Connell’s limestone sculptures in their Gathering Place that this sculpture depicts the work of 19th century Sisters who “taught European immigrant children and American Indian girls [and] began an academy for young women.” It also represents the work of Sisters today who “teach in elementary schools, high schools and colleges . . . [and are also] active in pastoral ministry and other areas of service to the people of God.”
“Work” Limestone Sculpture by Joseph O’Connell
How to Practice Visio Divina
Close your eyes and clear your mind.
Open your eyes and “read” the whole image. Close your eyes and rest.
Meditate on the image, let your eyes be drawn to one part of the image. Name this part.
Close your eyes and see that part of the image in your mind.
Open your eyes and look at that part of the image; notice your response — a word, another image, an emotion.
Close your eyes and rest.
Open your eyes and look at the whole image. What is speaking to you? How will you respond to this?
Sculptures by Joseph O’Connell (1927-1995) are located in the Gathering Place of Saint Benedict’s Monastery. Photos by Tracy Rittmueller with permission to publish on this blog.
Envision a self-story in which you value the work of nurturing and service
Using Timothy Wilson’s story-editing technique from his book Redirect.
You might journal about why the work of nurturing or serving others is difficult. Do you feel your wants and needs are are more important? Do you resent people’s needs and demands? Do you think some people are undeserving? Are you burned out, in need of self-compassion? Why and how is the work or nurturing others and serving them difficult for you?
See yourself as a person who believes in the value of work that nurtures and serves others, who makes it a habit to think about other people, while taking care of yourself so that you can be well. Why it is good to nurture and serve, to open your heart to the divine wisdom of compassion (for yourself as well as for others). Consider how you could think differently about service or be more nurturing, how could you make more time in your life for attending to this life-giving work? Think and/or write about yourself as a person who is, or could be, nurturing, who finds worth in serving the needs of others, who believes that your body, too, needs and deserves your nurturing.
Ask God to help you nurture others and serve their needs, and to take care of your own needs for nurture.
Now relax and let your growth as a person who nurtures and serves happen organically over time, by the opportunities and graces given to your, trusting that a life dedicated to nurturing service service will bring increasing peace into your heart, your life and the lives of those around you. Your nurturing service will also bring more peace to our world.