Sister in Lectio DivinaThe ancient reading technique of lectio divina involves reading slowly, in such a way that fosters reflection and contemplation over the content read. It is typical in lectio to read only very small amounts of a text at a time so as to allow the mind to digest and the spirit to absorb. At the heart of this reading was ruminatio, or “rumination;” today, we use this word to mean a way of giving voice to something we’re thinking about (which, come to think of it, seems to be a good definition of “blogging,” at least on this site…). But it was more than that; to “ruminate” in a true spiritual sense is literally to chew on something, to allow the food and all its flavor, juices, and nutrients to be completely chewed up over a long period of chewing in the mouth. When it comes to reading sacred books, be it the Torah, the Tanakh, the New Testament, the Talmuds, the Qur’an, or exhaustive mystical and spiritual traditions of all three of the Abrahamic sibling faiths (or, for that matter the holy books of many others) in all their varieties, rumination remains a powerful metaphor.

So let’s ruminate! Here’s a sampling of things to ruminate on; my selections are not accidental, and will be leading up to something in due course. Chew, chew, chew, and wash them down with the living water of prayer if you need to.

Ezekiel: “Feed your stomach and fill your belly with this scroll that I give you.” I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey to me.

John of Patmos: I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it; it was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter.

Talmud Yerushalmi: As the child must satisfy its hunger day by day, so must the grown man busy himself with the Torah.

Talmud Bavli: The words of Torah shall be sharp in your mouth.

Ephrem the Syrian: If there existed only a single sense of the words of Scripture, then the first commentator who came along would discover it, and other hearers would experience neither the labor of searching, nor the joy of finding.

Jane Hirshfield: Let her have time, and silence, / enough paper to make mistakes and go on.

Aidan Kavanagh, O.S.B.: It was a presence, not faith, which drew Moses to the burning bush. And what happened there was a Revelation, not a seminar.

Kathleen Norris: Revelation is not explanation.

The Qur’an: In this way God makes His revelations clear to you, so that you may grow in understanding.

Czeslaw Milosz: I have lived in apocalyptic times, in an apocalyptic century… My work to a large extent belongs to that stream of catastrophist literature that attempts to overcome despair.

Take, eat…