Reading and study should lead us to that creative encounter in which knowledge gives rise to wonder. In this way, study and reading leads to a deeper interiorization in which we begin to ponder God, creation, and our identity all against the backdrop of our encounter with Christ. Our meditation is not simply an idle speculation, but rather a movement of the heart whereby truth takes on a personal, intimate dimension.
In the course of our day, the workings of our interior dialogue are constantly at play. We tend to think of meditation in terms of definite and established periods of intentional reflection, but the reality is that the same movement of associations and interconnections is always taking place in our interiority. Often, the difficulty is that we are unaware of this constant flow of activity.
The second step of lectio divina, meditatio or meditation, is meant to highlight the need to listen to this interior activity and allow the Word of God to permeate it. Thus, set periods of meditation help us to develop a sensitivity and awareness to our thoughts, feelings, and desires. This in turn gives us greater freedom as we begin to see the patterns of our interior life and so discover our real motivations behind our actions. Meditation leads to greater understanding of both God and our selves, and this knowledge helps to deepen the life of faith.
Furthermore, in meditation we learn to allow the Word of God to enter our interior life and interact with the full potential of our humanity. Our mind must be allowed to move through networks of associations and interconnections which allow the Word to permeate the full range of our speculation. In a way analogous to surfing the internet, we must travel from connection to connection, all within the consistent practice of discernment. Discernment teaches us to see the fruits of each association, and so to discover those inspirations which are the working of the Holy Spirit and those which are not.
Thus, the natural progression from reading and study to meditation is a growth in which information matures into serious reflection. Instead of the Word of God being seen as merely external information which is useful, it becomes nutrition to the mind and heart which is viewed as essential. As this takes place, the Word of God begins to saturate our interior life throughout our day. It becomes the wisdom to which we turn out of a kind of reflexive instinct.
This is the second article in a series on the four steps of lectio divina.