Peace! It is good to have a new, more powerful and yet simpler blog format for Oblates to use. Thank you sisters for encouraging us to break open our lives and to share our thoughts on our spiritual paths. Especially, thanks to Sue Flansburg for facilitating this awesome website for the Benedictine Sisters of St. Mary Monastery.
I volunteered to blog first because I’m excited about telling you about the 1st Oblate Monastic Institute held in Atchison, KS this past July. Sr. Ruth Ksycki, Sr. Marianne Burkhard,, Deidre Redington Obl. OSB and I went for 4 days of reflection and praying with the Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica.
The second evening we were there we had a session by Cori Pursell, an Oblate at the Mount who is also a staff member at the Sophia Center of the Mount (their big retreat/spiritual direction building – http://www.mountosb.org). In this blog I want to briefly describe Cori’s presentation and reflect on the power of such an exercise. Cori challenged all of us Oblates to try a different kind of lectio and that is the main thing I’d like to put out there for any of you to react to.
Cori had placed pastels and big sheets of paper at all of our round tables – we were about 60 participants. Many of us were wary of having to draw and get more in touch with our emotions, but we were quickly taken by her many good questions and reflections. As an introduction to our assignment Cori showed us an apple and asked us what it was. We said, an apple, a fruit. She asked us to go deeper and someone suggested “an apple pie, it’s mom’s warm pie with melted ice cream”. Cori wanted us then to identify the emotion attached to this level of lectio on an object – was it love for your mother? was it overwhelming gratitude or joy?
So, Cori then asked us to draw with the pastels our emotional reaction to one of the Benedictine values we felt close to that evening. We were to do lectio creatively, to quietly reflect on our emotional landscape. The 20 minutes we had for drawing in silence went by quickly, too quickly. It seemed at least for me, that I wasn’t prone to as many distractions. The sharing afterwards at my table became an intimate moment, tender and non-judgmental. We were all surprised by how much we enjoyed this exercise.
Cori’s challenge to us Oblates was to try doing lectio with pastels every day for 30 days. It could be lectio on Scriptures, on the Rule or on our lives. Do we want to be charged with creative energy, to let the unconscious come to the surface in a visible way? Do we touch our emotions when we do lectio?
Doing lectio with pastels reminds me of an exercise we did last week at a Lutheran conference in Minneapolis for teaching theologians and pastors of large congregations. Deanna Wildermuth, the only female senior pastor among the 100 largest Lutheran congregations (she serves in Grand Forks, ND), gave each of us of a box of crayons, asked us to open up and smell them and think about our association, then to pick the color to which we were most pulled, and finally to draw how we understand the relationship among knowing, claiming, living, and sharing the story of Christ. Of course, being Lutherans, many promptly changed two of the verbs to the receptive, passive tense: we are known and claimed by Christ before we know and claim his story. But it was amazing how quickly we each found a way to draw or diagram how we related those four verbs to our sense of participation in Christ’s goodness towards us.
I am struck not only by the way drawing with colors opens up our inner senses, but also by the power of doing such an exercise, or lectio, in the company of others. Why might it be more powerful then?
Thank you for sharing, Madeleine. The experience of drawing in pastels was very free flowing and expansive as the paper was very large. The part I thought was most interesting were the comments of the others in the group. They shared what they saw or felt about my drawing. This added to my own feeling and thinking about what I had drawn. Seeing the variety and interpretations of the drawings of the others was most enriching.
Recently I have read the book, PRAYING IN COLOR, and it gives another idea of doing lectio with drawing. I found it very helpful during my retreat this summer. Sorry I can’t remember the name of the author, and someone else has the book right now. Maybe it would be helpful to you.
Thanks Sr. Ruth for explaining the exercise even more. Yes, the comments from others were important to me too. I’ve continued thinking about the exercise alot because I wonder what makes it different for me and for others. For example, yesterday I did the regular lectio taught to us with my Centering prayer group and then during the rest of the day I thought about how I would draw/color my emotional reaction to psalm 28:6-9. I found myself going into various life stories when I was doing lectio simply verbally while I sat with my emotional reaction to God as my “shield”, my ” shepherd” my ” savior”. when I contemplated doing a drawing of that. I really need to do this creative kind of lectio more so as to see how it helps my prayer-life. It’s fun to be excited about prayer in a new way.