"We do not always realize what a radical suggestion it is for us to read to be formed and transformed rather than to gather information. We are information seekers. We love to cover territory."
~ Macrina Wiederkehr
Reading for Information vs. Reading for Transformation: A Guide to Spiritual Reading...
The difference between reading for information and reading for transformation has little to do with content but rather with:
Imagine that you have just come home from a long and busy day. You pick up the mail and newspaper on your way into the house. You leaf through the mail and skim the front page of the newspaper.
At the end of the evening, you go back to the pile of mail that is still sitting on the kitchen counter to look for an envelope that you recall seeing; it was hand addressed and looked like it might be something special. You find it, and take it to a quiet, comfortable chair where you settle in. You study the writing on the envelope. You anticipate what is inside, and with eagerness open it, savoring the words and images that are there just for you. You hold the sender close in your heart, sensing his/her presence in your life.
In these two scenarios, can you detect the difference between the reader's intention, attitude, and manner? The first scenario is interested in speed and volume. It is utilitarian. The second is about depth and receptivity. Spiritual reading is more like the second scenario. It is a meditative approach to reading that focuses on quality not quantity, and requires unhurried time and an open heart. Reading spiritually changes who we are and what we care about. It creates a ripple effect which changes our thinking, behaviors, and relationships.
Below is a guide to spiritual reading. As with other healthy practices, such as exercise and nutritious eating, we experience the full benefit when we do it on a regular basis. With that in mind, I recommend that you set aside 20 - 30 minutes, 3 or more times per week for the practice of spiritual reading.
A Guide to Spiritual Reading
- Begin by centering yourself in a couple minutes of silence.
- Acknowledge God's presence and goodness, welcome God in, and ask God to guide your reading.
- Read slowly, taking time to reflect on words or ideas that seem to stand out to you.
- Prayerfully ask what these words might mean for you and how God might be speaking to you through these words.
- Journal about what you have grappled with.
- Offer your ongoing concerns and questions to God.
- Close by spending a couple more minutes in silence, with gratitude for God's presence, and asking God for guidance as you continue to seek, in your daily life, what these words mean for you.
Books to consider...