Live Radical…Pick the Flowers

“It’s really a radical thing in today’s world,” he says. “Every day we are inundated with tons of information and we can become desensitized in our relationship with Jesus.”
We are in a classroom just off the rotunda in this hotel in Pittsburgh—a rag-tag bunch—coffee cups cradled just under our chins. His hair is all standing up in the back but something in his voice…in his eyes…speaks calm.
We’ve come to read scripture together. It’s a workshop on Lectio Divina and it’s the only one held at 8:00 A.M. While most of the conference attendees sleep in or laugh over coffee in the hotel café, we pull inward…quiet our thoughts.
“Lectio Divina,” he says. “It means sacred reading. We are not deconstructing or analyzing. We are enjoying the beauty of the words for themselves…”
He gives us a handout and we take it in turns to read through the description he has put together from this book. When we get to the last step, he says it again.
“This is a deeply counter cultural activity we are engaging in today,” he says.
He tells us a story about a friend who is in medical school.
“As an exercise to deepen compassion, one of his professors made the students go to an art museum and stand in front of a painting for an hour. They had to study it…notice all the details they could. For an hour.”
He smiles at me. I smile back—thinking how it would be to stand in front of this painting…let its colors and story and light draw me in, become part of the compassion in my soul. Let its beauty become part of the framework that I live my life through.
We come to the last step on the handout—Contemplatio—and beside the word he has simply typed “Be”.
“Think of having a great meal with a great friend and then sitting in silence after wards…”
I silently re-read the last lines of the description he gives of Contemplatio.
Facilitate your re-entry to your day by using a florilegium, a notebook used by monks to record what God said to them through that day’s passages. In Latin, it means “picking flowers”—preserving the beauty of what God gave you that day.
So that’s what I’ve been doing in my old yellow notebook. I feel a bit of awe inside as I think of words as flowers—as I think of my bouquet.
And when we go through the exercise…I pick a couple more. And as I turn them around and around in the light of my mind, I feel it:
And here are a few more flowers I’ve picked…this week’s memory verses. You can download this James scripture memory card here. Last week’s scripture memory card is here. You will find a link on this post for a complete set of scripture memory cards of the book of James.
with the amazing Jen:
and dear Michelle too:


  1. says

    Me too Kendal – words as flowers. It is a beautiful thought Laura. Thank you for sharing this with us. I find my heart being pulled in the direction of quiet contemplation and liturgy and so many of the beautiful “exercise” we seem to have lost in the hurry and the loud.

  2. says

    I love Latin. I took four years of it in high school, and although I don’t remember a single word (except the joke we made up: “semper ubi sub ubi” — all prepositions, but when you say them aloud “always where under where,” — what can I say…we were in high school. Poor Miss Fay), I love the way the words look. And that translation – picking flowers. So lovely. I do it too, in my Target notebook, in the early mornings. Who knew I was picking flowers?!

  3. says

    Your words today make me think of the flowers we used to press between wax paper in my father’s old books; pressed so long we almost forgot they were there, still beautiful when we remembered to retrieve them.

    Thank you for this post.

  4. says

    Beautiful picture I have in my mind right now, Laura. Thanks for that.

    It is counter cultural, you know? To take the time, for starters. And to just be in the text, not having to do anything in particular with it but let it be what it is, work its way into us, say what it wants to say.

    I’m so glad you’ve written this. I really am.

  5. says

    What amazes me every summer, when things in the garden have gotten out of hand and I can’t keep up with the overgrowth and I take my gloves and clippers out to take a good hard look… what I find out there. I forget the little seeds and clippings I set in long before. And there they are, waiting to surprise me.

    Same experience with my old yellow notebooks.
    Same thing with God’s Word applied to my life. It turns into something and keeps turning into something, long after I’ve moved onto another verse, another chapter, another book.

    All that radical living reaps a harvest.

    You have inspired me in powerful and quiet ways this morning. Savoring what you’ve shared, Laura! Thank you.

  6. says

    Just reading the words Lecto Divina makes me smile! That’s an awesome opportunity you had to participate in a workshop!

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts — I struggle with slowing down, and simply being – being still enough to listen for God.

  7. says

    I am familiar with Lectio Divina, we do it at our bible study and it is so rich. Peterson talks about it in his book about the Psalms of Ascent. I LOVE that analogy of picking flowers. Probably because along with loving God and words, I also love flowers. Beautiful post. And Laura, I can’t thank you enough for all your encouragement and the discernment you seem to have when you leave comments.

  8. says

    I particularly like the reference to picking flowers — I realized a few years ago that’s what I am, more by nature than by discipline. I see and notice, take notes and am changed by what God’s spirit reveals in my spirit. I always thought I was weird, maybe I am. But I like being this sort of flower-child 🙂 Bless you -I hope you have moments where God breaks through the noise and gives you quiet petals of grace.

  9. says

    Your memory card is perfect.

    So you hit on something I think about all the time…becoming desensitized because of overload. One crazy story quickly takes the place of another, and through all that taking in and consuming, I sometimes lose my focus.

    Do you feel smart talking about Latin? I feel smarter just reading about it.

    Have a great week, lady.

  10. says

    Thanks for the new word! I didn’t know that kind of journaling had a name, either. “Florilegium” – must write that down before I forget. Lectio Divina is a restful discipline, isn’t it? Quieting in a noisy world.

    Grace to you, Laura. Grace in Jesus.

  11. says

    I was a small girl sick and home from school. My mother brought me one daffodil in a glass. I stared at the beauty of that flower for hours. Not a painting, but a real flower. Maybe I need to pick some flowers along with my words.

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