I don’t know about you, but I have found myself recently either avidly reading the news for the next/latest thing happening locally or nationally or shutting down access to it altogether, not allowing any of it to penetrate my consciousness. Neither response is good; neither response is healthy – for God calls us to love and justice and mercy.
Too often, in our fast-paced, instant information, “breaking news” society, we may find ourselves making snap judgments, forming rapid opinions – all done without discovering what the breaking stories of life might have to teach us in stretching our hearts, expanding our souls toward our best human selves, without being filled with the compassion to which God calls us.
The ancient spiritual practice of lectio divina (sacred reading) can offer us a way to seek and experience God in every medium, in every aspect of human life. Prayer and lectio give us resources for seeing the world and its people with God’s eyes.
In practicing lectio with news stories, our goal is not to unearth every fact and detail of a news event. Instead, it is to recognize when something of a news event moves us enough to go deeper and discover the voice of God speaking to us in that event. So, in your normal routine of reading/watching news, when you find yourself moved in any way (uplifted, concerned, angered, confused, saddened, etc.) you may choose to return to that story, or picture, or video and bring it to your lectio practice.
Here is a process for lectio that you might use with a news story each day:
- Before addressing the story you have selected – prepare yourself, quiet yourself and move into a place that will give you space to practice lectio.
- Read the excerpt of a news story slowly two or three times – not the entire story, but the portion that you are responding to. Select a few words or phrases that capture what matters most to you in the story – write out those words or phrases.
- Slowly repeat this mantra prayer to your
- self a few times and then sit quietly with its message: “God, may I see your face in all of life.”
- With the words or phrases you have selected from the news story, consider any or all of these reflective questions:
- How does this story, these words and phrases I selected, speak to me?
- How does this story stretch my heart and my soul to recognize the face of God in all of life?
- What do I experience as God’s challenge to me in this story, in these words?
- What might God expect of me in response to this story? What is God calling forth in me in relation to this story?
6. Sit for a time in silence with what you have experienced.
With the call to the good news of God’s love in one hand and the daily news in the other, may we hear God’s voice, and then move in the world with a more compassionate heart.
*Lectio process adapted from Joan Chittister’s Monasteries of the Heart course