This week we continue our Lenten reflections while we're socially distanced from each other, using Visio Divina. Visio Divina, meaning “divine seeing “similar to Lectio Divina, “divine reading,” which we’ve done also before…Visio Divina is a way for us to slow down and listen to a passage while meditating on an image that compliments the scripture. We’ve done four or five of these together as
a group this year, so the prompts and instructions should hopefully be somewhat familiar. If this is your first time doing this practice, don’t worry. There isn’t a perfect way to do this – the main goal is to slow down, sit with scripture, and allow the text and artwork to illuminate thoughts and feelings that arise. Sit with what you need to, breathe, and be.
Whether 15 minutes or 50, spend however long you’d like on this practice. Invite a virtual friend
or physically present family member to join you, or use it as a solo exercise. Feel free to do this outside or on your phone – wherever you feel most comfortable and can let your mind wander. We’d love to hear your thoughts through email or social media.
We're still worshipping together, even though we're apart...
Let’s begin our practice. Read the questions below followed by the scripture passage. (If you have time, you might want to read the passage twice to help yourself slow down.)
What do you hear? What word or phrase or thought stands out to you in this passage?
Passage: Mark 5:1-20
1 They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. 2 And when he had stepped out of the boat, immediately a man out of the tombs with an unclean spirit met him. 3 He lived among the tombs; and no one could restrain him anymore, even with a chain; 4 for he had often been restrained with shackles and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and bruising himself with stones. 6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down before him; 7 and he shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” 8 For he had said to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” 10 He begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now there on the hillside a great herd of swine was feeding; 12 and the unclean spirits begged him, “Send us into the swine; let us enter them.” 13 So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea, and were drowned in the sea.
14 The swineherds ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 They came to Jesus and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. 16 Those who had seen what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine reported it. 17 Then they began to beg Jesus to leave their neighborhood. 18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 But Jesus refused, and said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.” 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.
Now, reflect on the following questions while looking at the painting that complements the scripture:
What do you see? (You may want to zoom in.) What parts of the image are your eyes drawn to, and what parts did you quickly brush by? How does the image reflect on the scripture?
Next, take a look at the statement Hannah Garrity wrote about in painting this piece:
“Have you ever seen the illustration of equity vs. equality? There is a young child standing next to a young teenager and an adult. They all wish to see over a fence. In the description of equality, they each get a box that is the same size. The adult now towers over the fence, the teenager can see, but the child is still unable to see what’s on the other side. In the depiction of equity, they each get a different sized box. Now, all of their heads are peering comfortably over the fence. Why are we afraid of equity?
In the land of the Gerasenes, Jesus shows us what it looks like. He provides healing for an outcast of society, the man shows gratitude, and he evangelizes. This sounds like a moment we would rejoice in. Instead the townspeople beg Jesus to leave. Do they fear scarcity? But we know that God provides in abundance. Do they fear grace? But we yearn for God’s grace. Do they fear their safety?
Why do humans fear the radical grace of God? Why did the people of Gerasene fear Jesus? We laud Jesus’ work in the gospel as the work we must replicate. We teach our children to think of what Jesus would do. However, time and time again history shows us that when we truly work toward the embodiment of the gospel, humans interrupt the work.”
Consider the following questions as you reflect on Hannah’s artist’s statement and the painting.
What emotions emerge when you observe this painting? Do you identify with the artist’s reflections below? If you were to paint this text, what colors or details might you include?
Some final words from Jenny:
Is it just me, or does anyone else relate to the “demoniac” in this story, the man Jesus heals by driving evil spirits out of him and into a herd of pigs (this swine scene happens quite a bit in the gospels…)? Living among the tombs, fully isolated, and ostracized by the Gerasene community, I feel a sense of connection to this man as we navigate the pains and challenges of coronavirus. What exactly was this man dealing with? Why was he in so much pain and bruising himself with stones? Maybe it was the “evil spirits” talking. Maybe it’s because he wasn’t a part of his community. Studies show that addiction and mental health are directly linked to one’s connectivity to community.
Severed connections cause pain that hits at the core of human experience. What are the ways we are ostracizing ourselves from one another during this time even though there is so much that we can’t control? How do we perpetuate the poor treatment of those viewed as “unclean,” such as the rhetoric behind the label “Chinese virus”? I might be going off on a tangent now, but I feel like we can draw many connections between our experiences this week and the experience of this man in this story.
What gives me comfort is that Jesus steps in and offers a sense of healing even though he wasn’t welcome. I’ll end my thoughts with that sentiment.