Return to God’s word for the purpose of “hearing and seeing” Christ in the text. Fix your gaze on the illumination below. Ask God to open the eyes of your heart and enable you to see what God wants you to see. Be open to images, thoughts, impressions, and feelings that come into your awareness.
I was aware of many unsettling feelings and reactions while praying with this illumination — which is just one reason why this form of prayer can be so powerful. In Visio Divina, one is gently drawn from the head into the heart, where Jesus awaits each of us. Today, the emphasis is on “seeing,” and spending time with what it is God may want to show you…about you.
I was initially struck by the direct gaze of the man second from the left in the top panel. It seemed he was looking right at me and was asking me the same question asked of Jesus: “What do you say?” I began to think of how I can be so quick to judge, especially in certain circumstances. How hard it is to let go of the rocks and walk away.
It’s especially difficult to let go when you have a personal investment in a person, a relationship, or some issue; or when deep hurt has been inflicted, and the other person exhibits no sorrow. The look on the woman’s face touched my heart. In the top panel, she appears to be feeling fear and shame; in the bottom panel, I see sadness…and also fear of the unknown…fear of the future. Jesus says to her: “Go your way…”, but what does that mean? The curtain is drawn aside and she is invited to ‘choose life,’ so to speak, walk into the light, and from now on “…do not sin again.” Yes, Jesus has forgiven and blessed her, but this does not necessarily translate into instant freedom from shame and pain, inner healing, or clarity of thought and purpose. Healing takes time, it’s often quite painful, and there’s typically many stops and starts along the way.
In the bottom panel, I see a sense of apprehension and doubt on the woman’s face. Perhaps she’s wondering: “What IS my way?” Sometimes ‘choosing life’ is tough. Sometimes those old ruts…those old ways of being and thinking about oneself and others…are more attractive — simply because they’re known, predictable, and resonate well with a deep sense of pain or shame. The season of Lent is an intense reminder as to why Jesus, God-incarnate, came to live, suffer, and die among us. Jesus walks with us as we struggle to let go, not only of the rocks, but also of the habits and ways that keep us from truly living. Jesus walks with us in the form of a “community of healers” — people who can provide the love and support we need to keep making those small steps toward a more abundant life, and who will continue to support us when we feel the need to stop, or even go backwards, for awhile. One thing I know: God is in all of it.
What do YOU say?
©Woman Caught in Adultery, Aiden Hart with contributions by Donald Jackson and Sally Mae Joseph, 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.