St. Ignatius of Loyola, over time, became very concerned with spiritual practices. He developed one particular method that uses the imagination. It is sometimes called “Ignatian Contemplation.” Ignatian Contemplation uses the imagination as its center piece. In particular, using scripture and entering it using all the senses–feel the heat of the day, the dust in the road, or the smell of livestock. Enter the story in a complete way.
Today, I offer to you the story of the first king of Israel, Saul, and how he became the king. I ask you to use all your senses to enter the story. You may enter it as one of the characters or you may be a bystander. You may even be livestock! Whatever you choose, extend your reading of the story into your senses–taste, touch, smell, sight, sounds.
Take a moment and ground yourself. Sit comfortably, whatever that means for you. Take a breath in and release it.
Saul was at home, hanging out with his family and some of the donkeys escaped. Now Saul was a young, teenage boy–not viewed as a testosterone filled leader (although he is reported to be quite handsome!). Saul’s task, assigned by his family, was to go get the donkeys and return them home!
So Saul goes on the road. He looked here and there, and the donkeys were not there. He looked over there and over here, and the donkeys were not there. Finally, the servant travelling with Saul says, “Let’s go ask the seer in town!” The seer was the prophet Samuel.
Saul travels to the seer, Samuel. Samuel tells Saul that he is destined to control the future of the Israelites. Saul says, “I’m a Benjamite, from the smallest clan! Surely not me!”
Samuel and Saul eat and then Samuel anoints Saul to become the king. Samuel then sends Saul on his way home.
Saul travels home with Samuel’s instructions. He travels home and even encounters other prophets on the road, goes into a prophetic frenzy with them, and continues towards home.
Upon his arrival home, his uncle asks, “Where have you been?!”
Saul said, “Well, we couldn’t find the donkeys, so we visited Samuel.” Saul says nothing of the anointing by Samuel, the prophetic frenzy on the side of the road, or of being made king! Nothing!
Then, Samuel comes to seek Saul out. Samuel gathers all the tribes together to “determine who will be king.” Samuel “casts lots.” (Throws dice!) Among the gathered tribes, he throws his dice, and Lo! The Tribe of Benjamin is chosen. Among the families in the tribe of Benjamin, he throws his dice, and Lo! The family of Matri was chosen. Among the people in the family of Matri, Samuel throws his dice, and Lo! Saul is chosen king.
But Saul is not there! They go to find him and he is hiding in the supply closet. Then Saul becomes the king.
What questions did that raise for you? Where were you in the story? Who were you? What will you become?
Shalom & Amen,
© 2013, post, Terri Stewart, All rights reserved
REV. TERRI STEWART is Into the Bardo’s Sunday chaplain, senior content editor, and site co-administrator. She comes from an eclectic background and considers herself to be grounded in contemplation and justice. She is the Director and Founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition that serves youth affected by the justice system. As a graduate of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, she earned her Master’s of Divinity and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Direction. She is a contributing author to the Abingdon Worship Annual. (The 2014 issue just released!)
Her online presence is “Cloaked Monk.” This speaks to her grounding in contemplative arts and the need to live it out in the world. The cloak is the disguise of normalcy as she advocates for justice and peace. You can find her at www.cloakedmonk.com, www.twitter.com/cloakedmonk, and www.facebook.com/cloakedmonk. To reach her for conversation, send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org