Lectio Divina: A Spiritual Wine Tasting
Thinking of the process of Lectio Divina (Sacred Reading), I was reminded of the experience of a Wine Tasting. The goal in each of these “tastings” is to have a greater appreciation of that which is being explored – a wine or a Scripture. But, while one leads us to identify a wine that we like or dislike, the other seeks to draw us into closer relationship with the One who speaks with us through His Word, so that we may live our lives in a manner that is more and more in union with His Way.
LECTIO DIVINA: A SPIRITUAL WINE TASTING
by Fr. Ron Oakham, O.Carm.
In the Book of Revelation, John writes of hearing a voice from heaven, “Go take the scroll that lies open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land… Take and swallow it. It will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth, it will taste as sweet as honey.” (Rev 10:8-9)
The literal idea of eating a scroll surely doesn’t sound appealing, but a figurative understanding of consuming a reading of scripture, does makes sense. It is to appropriate the meaning of the sacred text into our lives which is at the heart of Lectio Divina – an ancient way of prayer within Carmelite Spirituality which is becoming more popular today in the Church at large.
Thinking of the process of Lectio Divina (sacred reading), I was reminded of the experience of a Wine Tasting event. Both of these experiences have similar steps.
STEP ONE: LOOK
Look at the wine in your glass. Hold it up to the light to see its color. Swirl it around to allow its “legs” to appear on the sides of the glass (the lines formed as it flows back into the pool of wine in which one can see its purity). While doing this, one is to be attentive to that which strikes you – the coloration, the density of the wine, the pattern made by the legs.
In Lectio Divina, first read or to listen to a passage of Scripture, being attentive to a word or phrase that strikes you.
STEP TWO: SNIFF
Sniff the wine. Lifting the glass to one’s nose, breathe in the aroma of the wine to assess its aromatic beauty. Identify fruit and flower aromas as well as that of the cask in which it was aged.
In Lectio Divina, meditate on the word or phrase that struck you in the reading, to simply allow it to unfold within. This may also be a time to include information from Scripture commentary about the significance of your word or phrase in this context or of the whole passage.
STEP THREE: TASTE
The third step is to taste the wine, sipping it and moving it about your mouth and palate before swallowing to appreciate its sweetness, bitterness, acidity, etc.
Flow from meditating on the word, phrase, or passage into Prayer that is prompted by the Word. The prayer may be intercessions for yourself or others, praising and glorifying God, giving thanks, or a combination of any these.
STEP FOUR: SWALLOW
Swallow the wine paying attention as it goes down. Does the flavor dissipate immediately? Or is there an aftertaste that lingers? What is its effect on your stomach? Soothing, a sense of heat, disruptive?
Contemplate the Scripture passage by resting with the Word to allow its meaning in your life to emerge. Is it affirming something? Enlightening an issue or concern you are dealing with? Challenging you to do something to bring this Word to life?
The goal in each of these “tastings” is to have a greater appreciation of that which is being explored – a wine or a Scripture. But, while one leads us to identify a wine that we like or dislike, the other seeks to draw us into closer relationship with the One who speaks with us through His Word, so that we may live our lives in a manner that is more and more in union with His Way.
This reflection has been prepared by Rev. Ron Oakham, O.Carm., a priest of the Order of the Carmelites of the Ancient Observance. He has served in parish, diocesan, international, and provincial ministry positions. Currently retired, Fr. Ron is on the Board of Advisors for Spiritual Direction Rising, continues his study of Carmelite Spirituality, and assists with pastoral ministry in various parishes in Arizona including St. Bridget Catholic Church in Mesa.
You can learn more about Fr. Ron HERE.
You can learn more about St. Bridget Spirituality Center HERE.