As a musician, my lectio frequently takes a musical form. I believe that even humming is an unconscious form of lectio: I have learned to attempt to notice what I’m humming (if it is a recognizable tune). Frequently my hummings are hymn-tunes and occasionally I am unable to recall the words. So, I look them up. Now and then, I can’t even remember a title, so the looking up takes some doing. Without fail, when I do find the words, they speak directly to some situation in my life. Sometimes, even an old rock and roll song or recent pop hit will inform my unconscious humming lectio. Try it sometime for a day. Even if it doesn’t prompt or inform prayer, it’s fun.
In a more formal way, I find doing a sort of mental or written play-by-play on a text can imprint it on my mind and heart more securely and set my mind to dancing with it for an entire day or more (alongside whatever else my mind is busy with.) Sacred chant is a special interest of mine, both from a spiritual and a musical point of view, so I regularly pray chant. If the words are Latin, it gives me the added advantage of ruminating on the interplay between the original words and the English words within the musical line. In what most of us know as “Gregorian” chant, which dominates my own experience, the melody is shaped by the spoken Latin text, so the words, the translation of those words, and the music are inseparable. No matter which stream my mind chooses to wander, consciously or unconsciously, I meet God. As I understand lectio, that is precisely what Benedict, and God, intend.
One need not be a scholar, or even a singer, to do this. Certainly chant is not the only possible repertoire–it’s just the repertoire I have found most rich. You might find that country and western songs or reggae tunes set your lectio juices to churning. Sacred texts (and tunes), I think, work better than secular ones, but I am neither privy to your prayers or preferences or the definer of what is and is not sacred. So give it a try.
Maybe a certain passage of scripture brings to mind a song, even from your childhood. Let the sacred text and the song form a relationship inside you and see where that relationship goes. It may take days or weeks. It may not ever end. It may wake you up in the middle of the night with a sudden discovery. It may affect a relationship or situation in your day. It may not do anything at all (though, in my experience, it ALWAYS does something and that something is usually an adventure.)
Or turn the process around the other way: speak a passage of scripture or a poem aloud. Listen to the natural accents and undulations of the words. If you’re confident (and alone) let the rise and fall of the language lead you into a tune. there’s no need to be concerned about whether it’s “good” or not. the important thing is that it is yours and that it opens a portal into the life that God is so eager to share with all of us.
More of a mind to listen? Why not offer a little more energy to the soundtrack of your day? What is that song on the radio really about? What is beneath the surface? Does it probe? Does it reassure? Do the music and the words tell the same truth? How does it make you feel? Is it worth listening to? Does it provoke the lectio process? What about the commercial on television? Does it tell the truth or is it a lie. Does it seek to manipulate you? Or to build you up? As a symbol of the culture how does it invite you to pray for the world?
The news? Can you use the exploration of events as a catalyst to pray for those placed in need or crisis by those events? Where is Christ here? Is there anything here for which to give thanks? How truthful is the reporting? Does there seem to be more opinion than fact? Again, how does it speak to you as a cultural symbol. How does it call us to be Christ in the world? What passages of scripture does a segment call to mind. Can you bring the two together in prayer?
I would enjoy hearing about your experience if you can take the time to post a comment.