Imagine if we never heard a sound from beyond our world, not a sign out of the eternal silence of God. How lonely a world without a word. But that is not the way of it. The infinite has spoken, and spoken with a human throat. Eternity’s intimate knows well what it’s like to hunger and to eat, to smile and run and play; to die and wake. The infinite is a word that speaks in human language. And when we take up the Scriptures, or perhaps another kind of reflection on our human destiny, we are approaching –as our fathers put it—a meal, a banquet of the spirit. We speak it, eat it, do it a tender kind of violence, love it into our whole being.
The ancients did their reading aloud. It was part of their culture, but it was also a way of connecting bodily with the word, asserting that God had entered the created material world as part of that creation. It was a way of taking the banquet of the word out into the common world of labor and backaches and cooking and cleaning the house. The Word of God became a man–the Word of God who has become monastic life and domestic life and business life and so much more.
So try just one right now. Let’s take the account of the widow of Naim. We are very familiar with it. The advantage of lectio is that the overly familiar can become mysterious and new. Don’t be afraid of being bored.
Count the people here: The widow. Her dead son. The crowd of villagers. Jesus. His disciples. And of course every single person in those groups is individual and different. Into whose reaction and personality are you going to insert yourself? “I am the widow.” Or “I am the little child being dragged along in the funeral procession by my mother.” Or “I am Jesus.”
Your thinking brain can do a lot here. Or your imagination. Fine. You aren’t going to be a snob about this. Whatever works, works.
But remember you are not alone. You are giving yourself into the presence and power of the Spirit. You are living yourself into the emotional world of this particular character. Say you are this widow, imprisoned in a culture that leaves you without material and emotional support. Let her situation rest in your heart. Quiet now. It may be that you know someone like that. It may be that you are someone like that, materially or spiritually. Let the Spirit of Jesus encircle you. You don’t have to figure out the answers, make yourself feel better. You have only to let the divine breath move over and into your perplexity or pain or stumbling efforts to trust. Let the scene play gently. Let be. Maybe you are thinking. Maybe you are feeling. Maybe your mind is just where it started. Come back later if you like. But stick it out right now for the length of time you set ahead. Come back day after day, and see what happens to your life over the long haul.
But remember that this particular form of lectio is only one possibility. We can go into other possibilities later. But this can be a start for now