the concept of visio divina
spiritually formed through the visual arts
by Mel Ahlborn

The influence of the visual arts upon our formation as persons acts as a cultural imprinting that can outweigh that of the spoken and written word; its effects can be both significant, and silent. The arts have an effect on us, and we are not always able to describe what we are experiencing. This is in part because art mirrors the viewer and the artist as through the same looking glass. It is also because we have not always developed the awareness of how we are influenced by what we see. Asking someone about their reaction to a particular piece of art, they may describe the technical skill of the painter, or speak of how it prompts them to recall a memorable time in their life. This drawing of connections, this making of relations between viewer and art maker and art is also true in our spiritual lives. An intentional practice of reflection on scripture while viewing visual art can develop our spiritual sight in several simple but nonetheless useful ways. We grow to appreciate how the visual world around us embodies and reflects God's creation. We experience ordinary daily moments that lead to personal insight. Visible signs of Christ's presence in today's world begin to reveal themselves through the work of the artist.

an introduction to visio divina
The practice of visio divina shares its origins with the long-practiced form of scripture reading known as lectio divina. As with lectio divina, visio divina nurtures the spiritual life through an intentional practice of reflection on scripture. visual art and scripture are considered together, supporting the practitioner through the reading of the Word, seeing with the eyes, listening, seeing with the eyes, listening with the heart, and responding in prayer. The online exhibition Visio Divina | Concept + Practice features several communities around the United States who are applying visual arts programming to their spiritual formation programs. (Correction: Frank Tracy Griswold was the 25th Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church. ECVA regrets the error.)

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