Reading For An Evolutionary Age: An Omega Lectio Divina

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

The Omega Center engages new ideas on bridging science and religion primarily through the lens of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin but through other thinkers as well. Teilhard spent years in the deserts of China where there were few distractions keeping him from pondering the deep questions of faith and life. I imagine Teilhard spending long hours by the campfire contemplating the questions of human life, evolution, and the profound mystery of God. He worked through his ideas carefully by pondering them over and over again. One can see traces of this in his writings where themes are repeated in different texts but never in the same way. As Teilhard thought deeply about a question, he wrote down his insights and in this way began to build a new system of thought.

How do we come to new insights in our own age? We have become “speed readers” and efficient organizers. But the type of thinking that leads to new insights requires slowed time, silence, and ponderous brooding over new ideas. How do we read Teilhard and creative thinkers in a meaningful way?  Many of the ideas in the Omega blogs stem from long periods of deep theological and philosophical reflection; hence they cannot be skimmed over lightly.  So, how best to engage this material?

One way is to practice a type of lectio divina when reading this material. Literally translated from Latin as “divine reading,” lectio divina is the ancient monastic method of prayerfully reading the Scriptures.  The process begins with a slow, careful reading of the text  [lectio], followed by meditation or pondering the specific words of phrases which speak directly to the heart [meditatio] which in turn leads the heart to prayer [oratio] and the deepening of prayer which is contemplation [contemplatio].

In a similar way we can approach the Omega Center texts in a slow, prayerful manner. I would suggest the following method:

  • Read the blog several lines at a time. Pause in between the sentences. What did you read? What did you understand? What did you not understand and why?
  • Reflect on the words or phrases that were meaningful for you. Keep these thoughts in mind throughout the day. Ponder them or, as the ancients taught, ruminate on them. What is it about these ideas that continue to speak to you? Write  down your thoughts.
  • Bring the ideas that speak to you into prayer. Do these insights expand your understanding of God? Do they provide a new horizon of religious meaning? Do you find yourself lifted up by these ideas into a wider expanse of life?
  • Stay with your insights in silent prayer. Sit quietly with them and allow these ideas to circulate through you. Let your mind stand in your heart and your heart center in God.
  • Return to the blog and the sections you either did not agree with or had a difficult time understanding. Do you see these ideas in a different light? If not, either let them go or try to understand why you do not agree – and then let them go.
  • If you are at peace with your new insights, then open your eyes, unlock your ears and apply your heart: What are you conscious of? What are you aware of within yourself? How does your new awareness change the way you understand God and see the world? What is kindled within you?

Conclusion

At the end of the day, review the new thoughts or ideas that you gained from reading the blog material. Give thanks to God for these insights. Realize that it is the Spirit of God within you who is struggling for new birth (Rom 8:22). Realize that insight is the midwife of new life. Know yourself to be a thinker and thus a participant in the motherhood of God.

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New Creation is the Center for Christogenesis online magazine dedicated to deepening our awareness of God, Cosmos, and Humanity in a scientific age.

Ω Vision and Ω Spirit cover questions of the theology and spirituality of the Center for Christogenesis worldview. Other areas include our What is God Today? video series, the Visio Divina image gallery, a Resources section with videos and PowerPoints, and the latest from Ilia Delio.

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A love letter to Ilia and Peirre Teilhard de Chardin Dear Ilia, I am so grateful to have found your books, your website, the Omega community and you, the prophet. Of course none of this was accidental. It all started with a car accident on my 21st birthday in 1968. I was driving alone at night, back to my job as a junior housemistress in a rural boarding school in Australia. Only my knee was badly injured in the accident but when I regained consciousness in the ambulance, I was aware of a terrible pain in my chest (bruising from the impact against the steering wheel before seat belts) as I struggled to breathe, it crossed my mind that I might be dying. I remember clearly thinking ‘what did the nuns teach us to do when one is dying?’. I was feeling pretty panicky by now and said the ‘Our Father’ as I was praying I relaxed with great relief because I knew from that moment (since never waived in my whole body conviction), that I actually, after all that teenage angst and doubt , did believe in God and more importantly that he/she believed in me. It was the greatest birthday gift I could have wished for . However it took about 15 years of ‘unfolding’’ to recognise the giftedness of this experience. The freedom of discovering that “faith” is not a noun but a verb of growing and becoming has given me licence to come and go, explore here and there, on and off. From Liberation theology, to the feminist project, sojouning with protestant friends and projects in social justice and ecological activism to Francis’ Laudato Si, the testament in scripture and finally home to the cosmic Christ and Teilhard de Chardin. Recently I get quite giddy, or ‘tipsy’, in awe and wonder at evolutionary creation and sometimes can cry at the privilege of being part of it. When I see an ant, busy about its business, or a weed struggling between the paving stones, I say to them,’even to be one of you would have been a great gig in this universe!, but to be chosen to be human through chance and natural selection, at this time of internet and DNA, to live in this country of security and more than my needs, to be a woman, a mother, grandmother and to have reached this consciousness of ’ unbearable wholeness’ and all that that means takes my breath away, like a car crash! Just one question. I don’t believe in “supernatural” any more. Is that heresy? The more I read about evolutionary biology and ponder on its implications for an evolutionary chistology, the more it seems to me that from the sub atomic to the cosmic scale, natural creativity, interconnectivity, communication networks, diversity, regeneration: have it all in hand. Thus the concept of ’super-nature’ is a tautology. I hope humanity can redeem itself, so that homo sapiens can continue to evolve into communities of healing and peace, but if not, then the infinite impulse will mourn the suffering and loss, but life is’ immortal and love is eternal’ (Bede Jarret) Resurrection goes on in the now, on the cusp of creating the future. Many thanks for your website. People like me need your company and inspiration. Patricia
Patricia Devlin
Monasterevin, co.Kildare.Ireland, AK
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