Like Lectio Divina and Visio Divina, Audio Divina is a way of tending to the Spirit’s work in us. Audio Divina means Holy Listening and, like its parallels with reading and seeing, its focus is noticing the movements that are invoked in one’s heart and mind at the listening of a song.
Music is often a facet in many of our lives that provides enjoyment, entertainment, and meaning. For many, just hearing a song from their childhood or youth can evoke memories and emotional response. But just like written word or visual arts, music offers us an opportunity to listen in a deeper way. Just like Lectio and Visio Divina is an opportunity to create space for silent listening, almost paradoxically, Audio Divina does as well.
Maureen McCarthy Draper, wrote in her book The Nature of Music,
Music is sound and silence. It is the spaces between notes that creates the rhythm, melody, and meaning, and the greater the composer – and the performance – the better the silence (pg. 34).
This counter-intuitive experience is one of using silence intentionally. As the music plays, the sounds point us toward silence, and as we engage in Audio Divina, we intentionally posture ourselves to listen and receive whatever the Lord would have for us in the moment.
Choose a piece of music – 3 to 5 minutes pieces should work well. You’ll listen to this piece for each movement. Find a quiet space, free from distraction. Sit comfortably and take a few deep breaths. Enter into prayer and devote this time to the Lord, inviting Him to speak.
AUDIO – Hearing
Upon the first listening, you’ll just listen. Listen to the melody, and cadence of the lyrics (if it has lyrics). Enter into the piece and let it wash over you.
MEDITATIO – Meditate (Reflect)
Upon the second hearing, take note of what comes up for you as you listen. Reflect on images, feelings, and even memories that may come into your imagination. If you are listening to a piece of music with lyrics, maybe a phrase is jumping out at you and drawing your imagination. Ruminate on it.
ORATIO – Speak (Pray)
Upon this third listening, bring your thoughts into dialogue with the Lord. Respond to the images, thoughts, feelings, and memories that may have arisen by speaking to the Lord about it – and listen for what He may be saying to you, or inviting you into.
CONTEMPLATIO – Contemplate (Rest)
Here we rest. We let our thoughts and conversation with God fall to silence, trusting we have been heard. We enjoy just being present with His Presence, instead of doing anything. You are not expecting to hear anything back from God (though you might). You may have experienced this in your human relationships… there is something sweet in being in the quiet company of someone you trust – words fall away and just being with one another is where your heart is content.
To aid you in your practice, I’ve made Spotify playlists. In each of these playlists, after the selection of music plays, I’ve inserted a one minute pause for you.