Artistic/Poetic Practices, Benedictine Spirituality

Envision the Benedictine Value of Community through Visio Divina (Divine Seeing)

This is the third of 6 Visio Divina Meditations, as an alternative to New Years Resolutions.

The Benedictine Value of Community

This limestone sculpture of “Community” by Joseph O’Connell (1927-1995) stands in the Gathering Place at Saint Benedict’s Monastery in St. Joseph, Minnesota. This depiction of the first sisters supporting their monastery’s foundress, Mother Benedicta Riepp, at her death, serves as a reminder that the sisters in this community promise to support each other in life and through the changes demanded by life. On one of my first tours of the monastery, my guide said a sister rarely dies without another sister or Sisters present to love and comfort her as she makes her final journey, to gently rest in the loving arms of God.

“Community” 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 Community

Using Timothy Wilson’s story-editing technique from his book Redirect.

You might journal about why community is difficult or why you don’t adequately integrate the giving and receiving of loving support into your life. Do you feel mistrustful? Of whom and why? Do you tend to associate with unhealthy communities because you don’t feel worthy to participate in a healthy, loving community? Do you become codependent, believing it is your responsibility to fix the unhealthy mess?  Why and how is community difficult for you?

See yourself as a person who believes in the value of giving and receiving lifelong, mutual support. Consider, and perhaps journal, about why it is good to support others, and to ask for and receive loving support. Consider how patience, kindness and forgiveness work to build strong communities. Think and/or write about yourself as a person who is, or could be, patient, kind and forgiving.

Ask God to help you give and accept loving support.

Now relax and let your growth–as a loving, supportive person who also gives love and support–happen organically over time, by the opportunities and graces given to you, trusting that this growing participation in community will bring increasing peace into your heart, your life and the lives of those around you, which will also bring more peace to our world.

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