Resources – Retreat At Home

Lectio Divina & Suggested Readings

This literally means ‘divine reading’. In the monastic traditions of all cultures you find great spiritual readings that emerged from the personal retreat experience of their major teachers. These speak to us on our retreats today – if we learn to read and listen to them. Most of us have forgotten how to read spiritually. It helps to have some guidance on how to read as a way of listening to the experience unfolding within and for you. The experience is of ultimate reality, absolute love. It communicates itself through the text and will show you the same experience is awakening in your heart.

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In everyday reading we read as we learned at school – as quickly as In the functional reading we learned at school, we tend to read as quickly as possible. We want to get to the end of the text and to get the take-aways as efficiently as possible. Then we can “use” the text for whatever we wish to accomplish. Knowledge becomes power. We plunder texts, rushing through them to get this information, build our competitive influence over others. Or we just want to be entertained and distracted – today we do this more often by ‘reading’ Netflix or web-browsing.

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On retreat, however, you become a bit of a monk for a while. Monastic and contemplative wisdom teaches that spiritual texts are also windows into higher reality. They are aspects of “revelation” and so deserve our quiet and still attention. We surrender the habit of “getting to the end of the text” and learn the habit of “being caught and held by the text”, “opened” by it, “communicate to” by the text.    

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This is especially true of the sacred texts of humanity.  They deserve our reverence and our time and attention. In fact, it takes time, a life-time, to really get to know these texts and let them teach us so we are read by them. In the great spiritual texts there are ever deeper layers that seek to be in conversation with us.

Texts for the contemplative practitioner are vehicles for the divine intimacy. They lead us from :

  • Reading the text as an observer, to
  • Feeling a deeper empathy with what it is meaning for you
  • Identifying your own experience 
  • Calling you deeper

There will be moments

  • of reflection when you stop to ‘chew’ a word or phrase that captures you
  • to savour the wisdom it is secreting
  • to ruminate and ponder in a moment of insight of opening your heart in humility and gratitude
  • of realising that we are reading in the presence of God consenting to being read by God 
  • and for the Word to become Flesh in us

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During Lectio Divina, you may be sitting in your favourite chair by your favourite window with a cup of tea or in a structured moment of your timetable, like morning prayer. Be free. Open your mind and then your heart by paying attention to the text moment by moment. Be ready and willing to be surprised. Let yourselves be taught. Allow the text to be your teacher. Let the the Word become the silence of “I AM.”


Some Additional Resources


Four Key Pocket-Size Texts

  • Christianity: The New Testament
  • Hindusim: The Upanishads 
  • Taoism: Tao Te Ching
  • Buddhism: Dhammapada 

Sister Traditions


Mystics from all Traditions

…are Common Friends to Accompany the journey. For example:

  • St Paul
  • Philokalia
  • John Cassian
  • Evagrius Pontus
  • The Cloud of Unknowing
  • St John of the Cross
  • Julian of Norwich
  • Hildegard von Bingen
  • Meister Ekhart
  • Simone Weil
  • Ettie Hilesum
  • Abhishiktananda, Satchidananda
  • Ramana Maharsi
  • Rumi
  • Sayings from the Zen Masters

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