Today’s post is by Kimberly Borin
The practice of Visio Divina offered me new ways of seeing, through God’s grace and eyeglass repair. It was another chance to see the spirit of God and to laugh out loud in the way that God speaks to me and encourages me to see in a new way.
In our contemplative group, we had just learned about Visio Divina. Visio Divina, “divine seeing” is an ancient, contemplative prayer practice allowing us to pray through what we “see.” In being available to sacred icons, or the natural world or life itself, we allow ourselves to be seen by God through the images — as we are open to look at God through what we see. The images and icons serve as a bridge or window to the divine — allowing us to see and be seen in a new way. This beautiful contemplative prayer practice offers us new insights for our lives and allows us to be nourished as we see and are seen by Love.
In our group session, we understood the careful steps to take as we entered into this sacred practice. The icons were elegantly swaddled in richly colored fabrics, with small votive candles all around them. Chairs had been carefully set up near each icon for those praying and viewing to sit comfortably. We were eager to approach the icons set up around the room. In doing so, we carefully got up from our chairs and walked in silence to the icon that called to us.
I was excited to begin and knew which icon was calling me. I was eager to see the icon “Jesus of the People” as it was different from any icon I had ever seen. (You can find this magnificent picture here: http://www.bridgebuilding.com/narr/jmjep.html) I got up from my chair, gently moved toward the icon — looking down to take a handout. As I did I saw my eyeglasses gently fall from my head in slow motion, breaking on the floor.
I was shocked as I bent down to gather up the pieces. After I caught my breath, I thought about the irony of the situation, a new way of seeing — the lesson was definitely not lost on me. I realized that God often spoke to me in ways that got my attention (ready or not). Thankfully, I also remembered that I had brought a newer pair of glasses that I never wore and realized that I would definitely need them now — divine seeing or not.
After retrieving the new pair of glasses, I sat down in front of the icon. As I looked at the image, I was aware of the reflection of myself. I saw tired eyes, questioning, the colors I love a combination of pink, black, and symbols from other faiths. As I settled down to be quiet and to be willing to see what would be revealed, I sensed the essence of the image, one of non-apologetic power and voice.
As I continued to pray and see, it was as if the image of Jesus in the picture demanded that despite my broken glasses, tiredness, and fears that I claim what belonged to me. I was surprised by the combination of compassion and commandment, which seemed to come through loud and clear — despite my worry and getting used to my new glasses. There was something about the image and my prayer that encouraged me to step into my gifts and move forward with more confidence than I had. This new way of seeing was a gift.
The next day, I went to see if I could get my eyeglasses repaired. It was a miracle, as the shop was open on a Saturday. They fixed my glasses for free, cleaned them, tightened up the hinges and returned them to me better than they were before. While there, the shop owner and I talked about the Visio Divina exercise and the focus of spiritual direction. I shared with the owner that having my glasses repaired felt like a miracle and a gift of grace. We laughed out loud at the synchronicity of my new “gift” of seeing, which seemed even more like a blessing.
Our practice of Visio Divina allowed me to see a reflection of myself, to learn to claim who I am as a Child of God. The practice allowed me to see in a new way, literally. I was in awe of how many things came together for the benefit of my vision, all of which I had no control over. The experience reminded me that, when we choose to be available to see in a new way, we can trust that our vision will be enhanced by the divine in more ways than we could possibly imagine.
Dr. Kimberly Borin is a School Counselor, Retreat Leader, and in training to be a Spiritual Director in Nurturing the Call: the Spiritual Guidance Program of the Shalem Institute. She believes that we can find peace and grace in simple ways, each moment. She has been a teacher and counselor since 1989 and holds a doctorate in Education, a master degree in Educational Leadership and one in School Counseling. She is an Ananda Yoga Teacher for adults and children and the author of the Laughter Salad series of books. You can learn more about Kimberly at: www.TheEncouragingWorks.com.
Want to improve your spiritual vision and learn to “see” from the spiritual heart? Join Tilden Edwards in his eCourse for Lent: Living From the Spiritual Heart. Starts February 21. Register now!