This blog post was written by the Rev. Wilfredo Benitez, Priest-in-Charge at St. John’s, Stamford
Spiritual practices that go beyond our traditional church practices offer an exploration of Spirit that are both ancient and new. Visio Divina, divine seeing, is one such practice. Building upon the practice of Lectio Divina, or dwelling on the Word, with Visio Divina a work of art can be used as a means of inner exploration and revelation. Exploring an image can lead to amazing insights, and connections to the Divine. As a Contemplative Photographer, I use photographs to engage participants in guided Visio Divina meditations, and reflection. What follows is a brief outline on how to engage this process. Please feel free to use one of my photographs provided here, or an image of your own choosing that you are drawn to.
Begin with a short breathing meditation or Centering Prayer. Sit comfortably, take a nice long deep breath; as you do this explore the entire image slowly, and take note of the first detail that catches your eye and stay with it. Linger there for a spell and remain focused on that particular detail. As you do this, slow your breathing and continue bringing your awareness back to the detail in the image.
Consider any thoughts that may arise for you, any feelings or emotions? Ask the Transcendent to speak to you through what has caught your eye, and take some time to listen in silence; once again breathing slowly, while gazing upon the detail in the image. If you have a note pad, feel free to make some notes, or even doodle some images. Take as long as you wish.
Come back to the image in its entirety and consider other aspects of the image. What catches your eye? How does the entire image make you feel? Does it provoke any questions? Does it stir up any memories? What sensations does it produce? Please make note of these thoughts.
Once again close your eyes and return to silent meditation or Centering Prayer. Sit for a few minutes, or as long as you like, with your new thoughts and revelations. After the final step, when doing this in a group setting, sharing can take place. This is a great opportunity to reflect on your experience, feelings, revelations, insights, epiphanies, etc. Often what is revealed comes from deep within, and can come in the form of a revelation or fresh new insight. Every person doing this in a group setting will have their own unique experience with the image. Visio Divina is a wonderful exercise for penetrating deeply beneath our conscious minds. It can also serve as a reminder to pause as we journey in the world around us. It calls us to pause and be mindful of what we often miss. Visio Divina might also motivate us to use the camera as a contemplative tool, taking the time to slow down when out and about with a camera, and see through the eyes of God. The whole universe can unfold before us.
To quote Meister Eckhart: “The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.”
I hope this brief introduction, and the photographs I shared, will be sufficient to draw you into this very profound spiritual practice. It’s all about the journey and seeing. Spirit is there to guide us. I invite you to give it a try.
Additional photo options for your practice.