Visio Divina for chapter 9

VISIO DIVINA: ‘Holy Reading’ Using a Work of Art

Lectio Divina, an ancient monastic practice, is a meditative way of reading Scripture.
Visio Divina is another way of holy ‘reading’, opening up God’s message through art.


Taking of JC
‘The Taking of JC’ by Joseph Pisani

Lectio: Read the picture slowly and quietly. Give it time to open up in you.

Meditatio: Reflect upon what the picture is saying to you – and what you want to talk
to God about – because of what the picture suggests or represents.

OratioRespond by writing down what has entered your spirit. Now circle a word or phrase from what you have written.

Contemplatio: Rest with your word or phrase, allowing the Holy Spirit’s wisdom to speak to your spirit.


#1. Gaze again at the picture of Judas kissing Jesus, as though the scene were occurring in front of you. In his book “The Heart Aroused” by David Whyte (pp. 259-260),
a Native American elder speaks about waking up to save one’s self:


Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger.
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers.
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

#2. Gaze once again at the picture of Judas kissing Jesus, as though the scene were occurring in front of you. In her book “Thirst” (p. 69), poet Mary Oliver offers us another way to see. How do we search for our own unknown goodness?


Another morning and I wake with thirst
for the goodness I do not have. I walk
out to the pond and all the way God has
given us such beautiful lessons. Oh Lord,
I was never a quick scholar but sulked
and hunched over my books past the
hour and the bell; grant me in your
mercy, a little more time. Love for the
earth and love for you are having such a
long conversation in my heart. Who
knows what will finally happen or
where I will be sent, yet already I have
given a great many things away, expecting
to be told to pack nothing, except the
prayers which, with this thirst, I am
slowly learning.

Can you share something of your experience with these meditations on the blog?  

3 thoughts on “Visio Divina for chapter 9

  1. For those who were there yesterday, I saw very clearly and with almost tears that Judas, the soldiers and others were trying to protect Jesus from whatever the man behind him was looking at. I was in no way seeing the actual subject of the painting.

    As I was looking at it, I kept trying to talk myself out of the response since I knew it was very off the wall. And started not to say anything at all about it but felt that I needed to.

    As I I was leaving and driving down LOVR, I realized what happened.

    My son died a few years ago, had long hair all of his life and What iI was seeing was him with all of them trying to protect him from what was to come.

    Earlier, someone had mentioned Mary and how difficult it must have been for the mother and I think that was what triggered that reaction.

    What a fascinating instrument the mind is that I could have such a totally unintended response.

  2. Anne,
    Thank you for sharing this. I wasn’t there yesterday, but now that you have written your response, I’m now seeing the painting with very different eyes. Our son died two years ago, and your comment has connected me to you, to Mary, to all parents – and to all of our children. We can’t ‘save’ them from their futures, but we can ‘be with’ them in their struggles…. I believe this is what God does for all of us.

  3. One more thought on this…
    I discovered thru my reaction to the painting that none of us see Reality with a capital “R”. We see reality only through the lens of our own experience and it can be and often is, far from the reality of what actually is.

    If I had known nothing about the painting, I would have sworn in a court of law that what I saw was a man being sheltered from a terrible event and I would have been honest in my response, yet that was far from what the artist intended. It doesn’t take a great leap to go from the experience with a painting to an understanding of how some black men have been falsely imprisoned because all that was seen was ‘black’ and not the realty of what happened and to go from there to a lost friendship or love because the true reality of what one said is misheard.

    . Seeing is not necessarily believing and I think that is exactly what Rohr is attempting to tell us . The crucifixion was not what it appeared, Jesus was not what he appeared and God, certainly is not what he/she/it appears.

    And the biggest false ‘reality’ seems to be in how we see ourselves, as Rohr says in Chapter 2, as “a deep sense of being inadequate, insecure, separate, judged and apart”. What we need is a new set of lenses, a new way of seeing that enables us to go beyond the ego self and actually see Reality with a capital R.

    I hope that I will not forget the lesson of this vizio divina, that when I am so quick to judge myself and others, I will remember this.

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