Note: This post accompanies content in the January 2022 issue of JUST Words. For more context, read the magazine here.
For generations, people of faith have sought ways of prayer to guide their hearts toward the wisdom of God. One of those methods, lectio divina—or "holy reading—has withstood the test of time. By quieting oneself first, then turning mindfully to a text, one allows the Holy Spirit's guidance and quiets the inner chatter (helpfully called "monkey mind" by Buddhists) so that all attention can be given to the text. This method works wonderfully well with Scripture or any other spiritual reading one might engage.
It's also possible to use a similar method for what could be called visio divina"—holy seeing. A song by Shirley Erena Murray caught the attention of the JUST Words editorial board as they prepared the January 2022 edition and they made a call for original artwork to accompany the song in the magazine, creating a source for both lectio divina and visio divina. Most submissions were able to be included in the magazine, but some were not. We offer those here and invited you engage them prayerfully. These three works, the photo above and the poems below, are from Sister Judith Hilbing, OP, whose life and thought are deeply formed by her years of ministry in the pueblos jovenes of Peru, among persons who have been marginalized here in the United States, and her decades-long commitment to the pursuit of Dominican life.
Reflection of Dominican Preaching
A canopy of wonder surges through our lives,
recycling collaboration, management, and workaholism.
into a manifestation of the Spirit.
Alone and together, the audacity of the lived preaching survives
and is articulated in the secret and public places of our Dominican lives.
Mostly it is a commitment to the language and acts of love, laughter, and reverence for life.
Energy for the mission pulsates as we stand with the most vulnerable:
the children, the elderly, and the youth.
Immigrant and refugee women are given a voice that ripples through family and society.
Faces of unmerited poverty, squashed by discrimination, are welcomed.
Diversity issues on college campuses
and live-giving relationships with our brothers and sisters of color
are kneaded into mutuality.
Our verdant preaching surfaces in rituals, conversations, smiles, shared food, Sabbath time,
technology, acts of kindnesses, unrelenting meetings,
and inclusive social configurations.
The Word birthing our silence and steadfast prayer
emerges in justice stances; lives in ecological promises;
animates the arts; and heals the shattered pieces of relationships.
Hope is carried in small increments to the public forum and to places of economic concern,
as we network across cultural and religious lines.
Struggling to preach where we have been told to keep silent,
we try to be sensitive to the Spirit in grounded welcoming space.
May our faithfulness to what sears the heart, identify our Dominican preaching,
while grace poised on the edge of wonder,
shatters obstacle and limits, building the new and the transparent.
—Sister Judith Hilbing, OP
Audacity and Paradox
(Bright's Grove, Canada 4-28-12)
Words like roar, flounce, merge, break...
describe the waves Lake Huron throw up on the sandy beach.
From whence do they come and why do they dissipate?
Sunlit or cloud-encrusted, they continue to roll,
slamming into breakers meant to contain, or onto beaches meant to consume.
Walking the coast we cannot ignore the collective air that blows cold.
The wind is raw enough for disillusionment, too strong for the timid.
What has been done is so wrong, so beyond justification.
Sighing we label all defining institutions —
Family, Church, Government, Economics, Culture...
We have been socialized by these systems, yet sooner or later arrive at the point
of choosing to not follow the expected script.
The voices on the peripheral and margins urge us to embrace the signs of the times,
to stand fierce in solidarity,
to admit that the answer to our dilemma is compassion.
Can we be inclusive in the battle-grey days as in the turquoise sunlit ones?
Let the "Yes" be to analysis, creative options, contemplation with dialogue,
common courageous responses and the intentionality of a Gospel stance.
—Sister Judith Hilbing, OP