Lectio Divina

Season One: Episode Two

In this episode I’m sharing the contemplative practice of Lectio Divina which is a traditional Western Christian monastic practice that seeks to disern the voice of God through the recitation of holy scriptures. We’ll be visiting with the poem “Sometimes a Wild God” by Tom Hirons as we listen for divine messages. Have your favourite create tools on hand to capture what you discern. You ready?


Show Notes:

Tom Hirons’ website: https://tomhirons.com/poetry/sometimes-a-wild-god

Hedgespoken Press website: https://hedgespokenpress.com/products/sometimes-a-wild-god


Transcript

Hello and welcome to Crafted Connections, a podcast by Fully Woven. Here you will find a collection of embodied contemplative activities to calm the nervous system and quiet the mind. Activities such as guided meditations, journal writing prompts, creative arts, and gentle mindful movement. 

My name is Monique and I trust and practice these activities to help me live peacefully with chronic illnesses. Their introspective nature is subtle yet profoundly effective at amplifying wisdom. In practicing them with you, I seek to create a space to ease your suffering and a space where perhaps you’ll find some connections.

Today I’m sharing with you Lectio Divina which means “Divine Reading” in English. This is a traditional Western Christian monastic practice and it’s intent is to discern the voice of God in the recitation of holy scriptures. The general form of Lectio Divina has the scripture read aloud 3x with silent pauses between each reading. 

I was first introduced to Lectio Divina almost 35 years ago while I was on my own path as an unordained yet devoted pagan monastic. I don’t know if I’ve ever discerned the voice of the divine but I have faith that these excursions into my subconscious as I seek a transcendent encounter bears fruit and that they are not wasted efforts. 

There’s a larger picture that I cannot see which is why I love poetry so much. With poetry – as well as with mathematics and some music – there are the words on the page – or notations or formulas – and then there are whole other realms within the poem. And these realms shift and alter and can mean something altogether different with each passing of the poem. 

I’ve written out and tacked my favourite poem to the wall above my kitchen cutting board. I see this poem many times throughout the day. I’ve read this particular poem too many times to recall and yet there is both an old slipper comfort and a new shoe squeak with this beloved poem. Poetry, like holy scripture, is a living document to be engaged with.

For today’s practice, my invitation is to allow yourself some creative expression during the silent pauses between each of the three readings.

What could this look like? Well maybe on the first reading you write down words as they jump out of the poem; and then on the second reading you somehow mark or highlight those written words that repeatedly and again jump out at you; and on the third and final reading you fill in the spaces around those words with doodles. 

This is just one suggestion there are of course endless ways to express yourself. Sometimes I tear out random pages from a magazine on the first reading, tear those pages into smaller pieces on the second reading, and then glue them to a sheet of paper during the third reading. Sometimes I listen in silence and record nothing. Sometimes I write down questions or try to capture memories as they are piqued by the poetry. You get the idea.

If this is your first foray into Lectio Divina consider being gentle with yourself and maybe start with writing down the words and phrases that resonate for you. Does that sound reasonable? 

The poem we are visiting with today is called, “Sometimes a Wild God” and it is written by Tom Hirons. You can listen to him reading this poem – his poem – on his website. And you can purchase a copy of “Sometimes a Wild God” from Hedgespoken Press. I will leave links to both of those websites in the show notes.

Here is a good place to hit pause and gather whatever items you’ll need for your creative expression. 

Okay let’s take a few moments of silence as we transition into our meditation.

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Are you comfortable? If not, move around a bit and find that sweet spot where you feel fully supported. Take a long easy inhale and a full soft exhale. Try that again and maybe even sigh on the exhale. And one more time – softly inhale and softly exhale. Allow your breath to begin to find it’s own rhythm. See if you can let go of guiding it. 

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Sometimes a wild god comes to the table.
He is awkward and does not know the ways
Of porcelain, of fork and mustard and silver.
His voice makes vinegar from wine.

When the wild god arrives at the door,
You will probably fear him.
He reminds you of something dark
That you might have dreamt,
Or the secret you do not wish to be shared.

He will not ring the doorbell;
Instead he scrapes with his fingers
Leaving blood on the paintwork,
Though primroses grow
In circles round his feet.

You do not want to let him in.
You are very busy.
It is late, or early, and besides…
You cannot look at him straight
Because he makes you want to cry.

Your dog barks;
The wild god smiles.
He holds out his hand and
The dog licks his wounds,
Then leads him inside.

The wild god stands in your kitchen.
Ivy is taking over your sideboard;
Mistletoe has moved into the lampshades
And wrens have begun to sing
An old song in the mouth of your kettle.

‘I haven’t much,’ you say
And give him the worst of your food.
He sits at the table, bleeding.
He coughs up foxes.
There are otters in his eyes.

When your wife calls down,
You close the door and
Tell her it’s fine.
You will not let her see
The strange guest at your table.

The wild god asks for whiskey
And you pour a glass for him,
Then a glass for yourself.
Three snakes are beginning to nest
In your voicebox. You cough.

Oh, limitless space.
Oh, eternal mystery.
Oh, endless cycles of death and birth.
Oh, miracle of life.
Oh, the wondrous dance of it all.

You cough again,
Expectorate the snakes and
Water down the whiskey,
Wondering how you got so old
And where your passion went.

The wild god reaches into a bag
Made of moles and nightingale-skin.
He pulls out a two-reeded pipe,
Raises an eyebrow
And all the birds begin to sing.

The fox leaps into your eyes.
Otters rush from the darkness.
The snakes pour through your body.
Your dog howls and upstairs
Your wife both exults and weeps at once.

The wild god dances with your dog.
You dance with the sparrows.
A white stag pulls up a stool
And bellows hymns to enchantments.
A pelican leaps from chair to chair.

In the distance, warriors pour from their tombs.
Ancient gold grows like grass in the fields.
Everyone dreams the words to long-forgotten songs.
The hills echo and the grey stones ring
With laughter and madness and pain.

In the middle of the dance,
The house takes off from the ground.
Clouds climb through the windows;
Lightning pounds its fists on the table
And the moon leans in.

The wild god points to your side.
You are bleeding heavily.
You have been bleeding for a long time,
Possibly since you were born.
There is a bear in the wound.

‘Why did you leave me to die?’
Asks the wild god and you say:
‘I was busy surviving.
The shops were all closed;
I didn’t know how. I’m sorry.’

Listen to them:

The fox in your neck and
The snakes in your arms and
The wren and the sparrow and the deer…
The great un-nameable beasts
In your liver and your kidneys and your heart…

There is a symphony of howling.
A cacophony of dissent.
The wild god nods his head and
You wake on the floor holding a knife,
A bottle and a handful of black fur.

Your dog is asleep on the table.
Your wife is stirring, far above.
Your cheeks are wet with tears;
Your mouth aches from laughter or shouting.
A black bear is sitting by the fire.

Sometimes a wild god comes to the table.
He is awkward and does not know the ways
Of porcelain, of fork and mustard and silver.
His voice makes vinegar from wine
And brings the dead to life.

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[Read thru two more times for a total of three readings with pauses in between each reading.]

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Now begin to capture your last few thoughts here.

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And set whatever you’ve created to the side. Consider bringing your hands to rest and either close your eyes or gaze softly downwards. And once again, return to witnessing your breath. Without changing or guiding its flow allow your breath to move in and out of your body. 

Do you trust your breath? Do you trust your body knows what to do with the received breath? You know we don’t need to say on every inhale “now body, when the breath comes in this is what you need to do…”. The body knows. Can you trust that? Can you trust that you will know what to do with what you have received from this Lectio Divina? You may not know today or even tomorrow. But can you trust that more is going on than you can see? Can you trust in that?

Thank you for sharing your contemplative practice with me today and until next time, may peace be with you dear one. Bless.