Isaiah is consistently beautiful in his writings whether it be in the Advent/Christmas seasons, or Lent/Easter times. I always love them. The Mass reading this past Tuesday, Is 55:10-11, captures a beautiful reality.
My daily prayer life involves Lectio Divina which is a practice of reading the daily scripture readings and then pondering and being open to listening for what God wants to impart to you. A passage like this is ideal. The meditation for this day (Feb 23) from Word Among Us gives an excellent description of Lectio Divina and commentary on Isaiah’s passage.
Just as from the heavens
the rain and snow come
And do not return there
till they have watered the earth
making it fertile and fruitful,…
So shall my word be
that goes forth from my mouth;
It shall not return to me void,
but shall do my will,..
DAILY MEDITATION: ISAIAH 55:10-11
My word . . . shall not return to me void. (Isaiah 55:11)
Have you ever been inside a greenhouse? Its transparent walls trap heat and humidity, creating a tropical atmosphere—even in the wintertime. The walls also keep out hungry herbivores. It’s no wonder a greenhouse is such a fertile environment!
This may be a good metaphor for the practice of lectio divina, an ancient, prayerful way of reading Scripture. In today’s first reading, we hear about the life-giving power of God’s word. It’s like rain that waters the earth and causes crops to grow and bear fruit. You could say that lectio divina is an especially fertile environment for growth.
In order to experience God’s written word through lectio divina, you need to “wall yourself off” from distractions for a time. This creates space for the four traditional stages of this practice: reading, meditation, prayer, and contemplation.
Reading. Just as fertile soil helps plants grow, the words of Scripture are a rich medium in which we can experience God’s grace. So unhurried reading of a short passage is the first step of lectio divina. This stage usually ends as you pause at a phrase—even a word—that catches your attention.
Meditation. Remember the greenhouse’s clear walls that let in so much light? Similarly, you can invite the Holy Spirit to illuminate the truths in that phrase or word as you ponder it and turn it over in your mind.
Prayer. Next, bring your reflections before the Lord in the form of a prayerful conversation. Maybe you could thank him for a truth he has revealed. Or ask him whatever questions come into your heart. Then give him room to respond. At this point, the Lord may already be irrigating your soul with peace or joy.
Contemplation. Now be still and open. Allow anything God has said or done to soak in. Let his word take root within you—even if you don’t immediately “feel” anything happening.
And that’s it. But don’t be fooled. Even though it’s structured and simple, lectio divina contains living surprises, like any good greenhouse. You never know at which stage you may encounter the Lord walking through the garden.
“Lord, make your word come alive in my heart!”
Psalm 34:4-7, 16-19