Sunday, October 28, 2012

Lectio To Go

If I am to live "immersed in lectio" (i.e. in scripture), I must learn to take it with me wherever I go.  This is obviously a process, an "art" that cannot be mastered overnight.   

Years ago, I learned a way of carrying at least a touch of lectio with me... a way to cart chunks of the Bible around as I work and drive and (especially) face into the storms of life.  In recent weeks, I've been re-learning the value of this "portable lectio."  It does not replace time apart with God, for I need time with my Bible open and with my mind as concentrated as possible.  But I am greedy enough to want scripture with me, wherever I go.  I want God's word to shape me.  To mold my attitudes, soothe my worries and calm my fears.  I want scripture to form my thinking.  I want to carry it with me as much as possible.  So, in addition to taking with me parts of scripture that jumped out at me "this morning," I also memorize.  

Someone asked me, years ago, why anyone would bother memorizing verses of scripture when Bibles were so readily available?  Because, I answered, there may come a time when I might not have ready access to one.  I wasn't necessarily referring to anything apocalyptic, but to any times when I might want to "read" the Bible and wouldn't have one right in my hand.  Like once when I spent an hour in an MRI "tube" with nothing to think about but the blangs and clangs swirling around my head.  I was thankful, then, to have memorized a few chapters of scripture.  I practiced lectio right there, holding a mental, silent conversation with God as I lay in my metal enclosure....

But however does one memorize chunks of scripture?  I have done it the way one memorizes anything:  by repetition, repetition, repetition.  I've done it in small manageable chunks of a sentence or less a day, sentence added to sentences until look!... here's a paragraph...

I began with the first chapter of the Gospel of John, because it so greatly appealed to me.  I figured that if I were ever stranded on a desert island or stuck in a massive storm, this was what I'd want lodged in my head.  I managed to memorize the first 14 verses straight through (don't be too impressed:  it took me all of one summer and into the fall).  I would read my "new sentence"  in the morning, go back to it mentally through the day, look it back up if I got stuck, and recite it mentally as my bedtime lullaby.  I'd go to sleep reciting all of what-I'd-memorized-so-far in my head (silently - without my husband even knowing I was doing this!).  A soothing way to go to sleep...

I haven't memorized a great deal of scripture, but do have enough of a storehouse to keep me going in some of the traffic jams and storms and MRIs of life.

And if I'm ever stuck on a desert island, at least I'll have brought my Lectio-to-Go.



Painting: Charles Sillem Lidderdale, The Fern Gatherer, 1877