Tesserae are the small cube-shaped tiles of ceramic, glass, or precious stone that are used to make a mosaic. Over the next while, I will be creating verbal tesserae, short essays exploring different bits of my ongoing lectio divina on Luke 10:38-42, Luke’s account of Jesus’ visit to the home of Martha and Mary. Eventually, perhaps, we’ll discover the mosaic picture these tesserae create.
First, a word about lectio divina, or divine reading. Lectio is a centuries-old practice for reading scripture prayerfully. We approach the text seeking to encounter the living Word, an encounter that shapes and transforms us. We read a short passage slowly, noticing a word, phrase, or image that stands out for us; we stay with that phrase, savoring it and letting it echo in our hearts and imagination; we respond with prayer interaction through words, thoughts, and feelings; we move beyond words to rest in God. (Check here for simple directions on this way of Praying with Scripture.)
I have done lectio in multiple ways over the years, sometimes reading a few lines of scripture in the morning, discovering a word or phrase that has echoed throughout the day. For several years, I regularly went to www.sacredspace.ie/daily-prayer, an online website whose gentle questions guide the reader through lectio with the day’s chosen passage. I’ve also done group variations, where a weekly fellowship group looks at a passage together. And the contemplative photography I have been sharing on this blog is itself a sort of lectio divina, with the text being God’s creation.
With this story of Martha and Mary, I have been doing a sustained lectio divina, a way of going deep with a text that I encountered in Lectio Matters: before the burning bush, by Sister Mary Margaret Funk, a Benedictine nun from Indianapolis. More on this in upcoming Tesserae.