We were invited to practice lectio divina during our staff devotional time. As a reminder, lectio divina literally means “divine reading.” It’s an ancient spiritual practice of reading, meditating and praying on a passage of scripture intended to foster connection with God. That day, the passage was
Psalm 94: 17-19:
If the Lord had not been my help, my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence. When I thought, “My foot is slipping,” your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.
Kara, who led our devotional, played some background sound on her phone so that we wouldn’t be distracted by coughs, air conditioner noise or voices out in the hallway. I settled in for a quiet time listening to the first few seconds of sound that gently filled the room.
“What is that sound?” I thought. “Oh, it’s the sound of rain falling. Nice—very calming.” I continued to listen and after a few more seconds, an unexpected and unwelcomed thought came into my mind. “No— it sounds more like bacon frying than rain. BACON FRYING??? Where did that come from? I don’t need to think about bacon right now. I’m supposed to be communing with God, for Pete’s sake.” At that point, not only could I hear bacon frying, I began to smell it too!!!”
I shook my head in shame—maybe chuckling a little at my lack of spiritual discipline— and just went with it. Truth is, I love bacon and it smells wonderful. It always reminds me of mornings when I was little. I would walk into the warm kitchen and there was Mom standing in front of the stove frying bacon. I didn’t know what was coming, what the rest of breakfast was going to be, but the bacon was cooking—breakfast was going to be good—all was right with the world.
Kara’s second slow reading of scripture interrupted my sweet memory. “When I thought, ‘My foot is slipping,’ your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.” In the silence that followed, I thought of another time with my mother. I was a young woman, probably in my mid-twenties, living out on my own for the first time. During the night, I heard a sound out the window that woke me up and frightened me. I’d had several scares in recent weeks—nights with strange phone calls, nights of unexplained noises, nights lying awake until morning. I was tired of it. And, so that night, without really thinking, I got dressed, drove to my parent’s house, entered quietly and slept the rest of the night on the couch.
When my mom came into the room in the early morning, I woke up. She looked startled to see me and asked the question I’d heard her ask a million times. “What’s wrong?” I answered, “I got scared—and so I came home.” I began to cry out of embarrassment and lack of sleep. Without a word, my mother came and hugged me. As I recall, she cried a little too.
I don’t understand the weird workings of my mind—frying bacon, or my heart—stories of my mom, or the Holy Spirit, for that matter. All I know is that during Kara’s third and final reading of Psalm 94: 17-19, I felt a deep connection with the God who consoled me with a mother’s hug.