A New Way of Seeing: Clare of Assisi’s “Visio Devina”

The last time I wrote, I mentioned that in June I had the opportunity to take part in a very interesting workshop/retreat on resiliency and aging at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ontario. One workshop I found to be unique related to how we view art. Both Richard and I love to visit art museums when we travel, so this workshop intrigued me..

Entitled “Gazing in Art & The Art of Gazing”, it was led by former Regis College professor Maureen McDonnell, who invited us into a different way of “seeing”. This is something that Jesus was always inviting his followers to do — to see things differently. In fact, most great spiritual leaders have called their disciples into a deeper way of seeing life.

McDonnell introduced us to the spiritual practice known as “Visio Devina”, a Latin term which means “Holy or Divine Looking”. Dating back to the thirteenth-century nun, Clare of Assisi, the Visio Devina includes four steps: gazing in silence, consideration,  contemplation, and imitation or transformation. It takes time. It requires quiet and a clear focus. It involves meditation. It is not something to be rushed. Those who practise Visio Devina often come away with a deeper appreciation for the painting or sculpture they are looking at, a new lens on the subject matter, and even a sense of spiritual awakening.

Why not find some quiet time and give Clare of Assisi’s Visio Devina a try?

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