ECS Wellbeing: Bishop Martin’s Awareness Practice- Week 6
I’ve never understood why ‘speed-reading’ is regarded as a necessary skill.
Perhaps, if you work for the Media or in some Government department, it will be useful and maybe even important. Perhaps those in the medical profession need to keep up with scientific papers quickly.
I’ll let you into a secret. Although reading is a pleasure and also important to me, I’m slow! Maybe that’s because I have the concentration of a distracted flee! When I left University, I was so ashamed of how few books I’d read, that I made a rule that, barring emergencies, I’d read a minimum of 20 pages of a book every day. That may seem obsessional. But it does work. I’m not so anxious to ‘get through’ a book.
A Suggestion. ‘Lectio Divina’.
In many religious cultures, reading is a fundamental spiritual practice. In Judaism, someone reading The Talmud uses a metal ‘pointer’ to follow the words along the page slowly [from right to left in Hebrew]. In Christianity, there is the beautiful tradition of Lectio Divina. Literally, this means discovering the Divine Presence in Scripture and of the Mystics. This discovering starts with reading slowly, not just to engage the mind but also the feelings and reflections.
Here’s a short extract from a book by Maria Boulding.
1, Read it slowly. [Out loud, if that helps.]
“The hope that we are traveling towards a destiny, rather than a mere collapse, is linked with the faith that our origins were already purposeful. If we think that our existence is a mere fluke, the result of some wildly improbable mix in some primal soup that threw up the conditions required to sustain life, then our whole human story is a chance bubble; it has no purpose and can be pricked as meaninglessly as it was formed. But if there is a Creator who stands outside the whole cosmic evolutionary process, and yet works his will within it by a wisdom and love that are present in its every tiniest movement, then human life has a purpose.”
- Now read it again slowly.
- Sit with the text. What words, phrases, images strike you…? If it helps, write them down.
- Now be silent with the text, without trying to force thoughts and arguments. Just be – distractions and all!
- Now after a little while ask yourself if the passage has some implications for you. Again don’t force it.
- To finish, be thankful for what has been shown you, not just from the reading but from YOUR ENGAGEMENT with the reading.
From a poem by Henry Vaughan. Use the same process I gave you above.
“There is in God, some say,
A deep but dazzling darkness, as men here
Say it is late and dusky, because they
See not all clear.
O for that night! where I in Him
Might live invisible and dim!”
Now, what about young people and children…?
You might want them to choose a reading that may have struck them already. If you choose something, make sure that it feeds into their own feelings and thinking, in so far as you can ‘read’ them!
This Lectio Divina approach can have a life-changing effect on you, believe me!
Bishop Martin Shaw
ECS School Chaplain