Imago divina is an extension of lectio divina or holy reading, a simple way of praying with an image or artwork instead of with Scripture. It leads us naturally from a rational consideration of how a painting might connect with our current life, to a personal response in prayer and a gentle resting in the love of God, the beginnings of contemplation. Lectio divina emerged as a practice in the early Church, finding its way into European monasticism through Cassian and St Benedict. Nowadays, along with other forms, Lectio, Imago, and Terra Divina (the holy reading of the natural world) are experienced by followers of the Way, as gifts of grace and growth in Christ.
The following suggestions may help you to befriend an image and allow it to speak to you.
Allow yourself to be drawn into this experience with an open heart.
Find a space where you can be alone.
|Find an image that attracts your attention – one you like or don’t like, and find a place for the image within your space. Allow yourself to be invited into the mystery it might hold for you – at this time.|
|Lectio (reading) …..trusting that the Holy Spirit is there to help you, ‘read’ the image really SLOWLY. Some people find that systematically moving your eyes from left to right and top to bottom, helps to slow them down and notice detail. Let the image move deeply into your being, like nourishing rain into the soil. Allow it to touch you.|
|Meditatio (reflecting) ..reflect on the art work (or part of it) that has touched you, exploring what it means to you here and now. Let the image resonate with your personal situation; believe that through this process God is communicating with you, perhaps giving an encouragement or a challenge, or calling you to a deeper awareness of God’s love for you.|
|Oratio (responding) ..now respond and talk to God about what you have been thinking and what you have noticed. You might pray your response or write in your journal, even sing or dance or paint your response …pray as the Spirit moves you.|
|Contemplatio (resting) ..in this final and most important stage, sit quietly with God, at rest in the presence of the One who loves you. Do not worry that you may appear to be doing ‘nothing’. Trust that the Holy Spirit is at work in the depths of your spirit, deepening your faith. Let the image and its message move from your head to your heart to dwell there in peace-full silence.|