Return to God’s word for the purpose of “hearing and seeing” Christ in the text. Fix your gaze on the illumination. Ask God to open the eyes of your heart and enable you to see what God wants you to see.
Yesterday I realized that any moment in my life can be a “time out”, an opportunity to take a step back, rest in my relationship with God, and find ways to deepen that relationship, much like Abraham’s vision. Oftentimes for me, visio divina is a way to do that, especially when I take the time to enter into the practice first thing in the morning. I ask God to guide my heart and eyes towards that which I need to see.
When looking at the illumination, I notice at first what I find visually interesting. I see Abraham and Sarah written at the bottom of the maze of lines, and realize that this must be a depiction of their family tree, as numerous as the stars above.
The family tree appears inverted: rather than branching downwards, it branches up, towards the heaven, the stars, and God. I can almost visualize Abraham experiencing his prayerful vision at the base of this family tree, seeing not only his descendents but God with his descendents. Much as I cannot read the Hebrew names at the top, Abraham does not know the specific details of God’s promises. Yet he turns his gaze — and his trust — upwards, towards God. I often pray about my future, and the future of those I love. I tend to see it as dark and obscure, but this illumination invites me to reframe it in upwards, into God’s mysterious love. It will still be unknown, but it is above, in God’s hands.
I am also reminded by the text that is pulled into the illumination that both Abram and Sarai are blessed by God and receive new names as a sign of this (Abraham and Sarah). As the passage made clear, Sarah has an irreplaceable role to fill — Abraham will only have his descendents through her.
© Abraham and Sarah, Donald Jackson, 2003. The Saint John’s Bible, Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota. Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition, © 1993, 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.