Category Archives: Sacred Reading

Exercise 33: Working Through a Verse, One Word at a Time.

Background:  Like many sacred reading practices, this one can be used with material from many different sources.  The most common, of course, would be from a sacred text.  But it would also work with a poem, prose, letter.  The value of this practice is in the way it deeply reinforces and repeats words that are important to internalize.  Choose, therefore, words that you need to remind yourself of.  In today’s exercise, I have chosen the opening to psalm 40.

The Exercise

  1.  Release your worries and responsibilities, for the duration of your spiritual practice today.
  2. Breathe.
  3. Read the following passage to yourself, just as it is written: I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.
  4. Inhale, and exhale again, as you consider what those words mean.
  5. Now, say the phrase again to yourself.  But this time, emphasize the first word: I waited patiently for the Lordhe turned to me and heard my cry.
  6. With your next breath, consider what this sentence now means.  What different shades of meaning are invoked by this emphasis?
  7. Repeat the phrase, but emphasizing the second word: I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.
  8. Again, during your cleansing breath, consider the new meanings.
  9. Now, focus on the third word:   I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.
  10. During the inhale and exhale, explore what this phrase means.
  11. Progress to the fourth word:  I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.
  12. With that next breath, lean into just who it is you are waiting for.
  13. The fifth word:   I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.
  14. Consider, perhaps the idea that their are many things which might want to be Lord of your life, but there is only one entity who actually is.
  15. Say to yourself the sentence emphasizing the sixth word:  I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard me cry.
  16. Consider the meaning of the sentence with that emphasis.
  17. Focus, now on that next word:   I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.
  18. With your breath, experience this reality.
  19. Shifting to the next word in the sentence, the emphasis becomes:  I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.
  20. As you inhale and exhale, consider the meaning of this sentence.
  21. Now, say to yourself : I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.
  22. With that next breath, consider this new sentence.
  23. The next sentence is:  I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.
  24.  Live this reality with your next breath.  Rejoice in the reality that he turned to you.
  25. Now: I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.
  26. Can you find anything new as you meditate, with your next breath, on this emphasis?
  27. Consider the sentence:   I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.
  28. Think about this with your next in-breath and out-breath.
  29. You will say this verse two more times in this exercise.  Emphasize it this way this time:   I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.
  30. Consider this carefully.
  31. One final time, emphasizing that last word:   I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.

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Exercise 25: Pardes

Background: There are many approaches to reading scripture.  Some of these arise within a specific tradition.  It can be interesting to explore these practices’ interelations.  For example, the Jewish practice of Pardes has interesting paralells to Christian Lection Divina.

Before beginning this exercise, you will want to have preselected a text.  Most often, this would be a work of holy scripture.  In my experience, a passage between 1 paragraph and 2 pages works best.

Spiritual Exercise

  1.  Breathe.  Release your obligations and responsibilities for the time being.
  2.  Read the passage once through.  On this reading, in your mind, explore the literal meaning of the words you read.
  3. Breathe slowly in through the nose and out the mouth.
  4. Reread the passage.  Explore the allegorical, symbolic meaning of the words in the passage.
  5. Breathe slowly in through the nose and out the mouth.
  6. Read the passage again.  This time, look for a precedent.  Consider the occurrences that this reminds you of.  These related events might be other passages in the same text; it might be other things you have read.  It might be reminders from other aspects of your life.
  7. Look for a hidden and new meaning to the text.  This might be a result of considering the 3 levels of meaning at the same time.  It might result from God’s action in your heart as you attempt to go deeper.
  8. Spend some time with God, thanking God for this new understanding.

You can help in turning The Faith-ing Project into a fully functioning community.  You can do this in several ways:

  • Share your thoughts, feelings, and criticism below in the comments.
  • email otherjeffcampbell7@gmail.com to share something directly with the Project’s Director, to join our next email campaign, or to ask to be placed on the mailing list.
  • Access exclusive content and help The Faithing Project continue to deliver this conetent to a world in need: become a Patron.
  • follow @faithingproject on twitter.