We love this thing! You are looking at the 2019 Fall Foliage Map - the ultimate visual planning guide to the annual progressive changing of the leaves. This tool is meant to help travelers better time their trips to have the best opportunity of catching peak color each year. It is made available on the Smoky Mountains.com website - a site promoting Smoky Mountains tourism.
We are including a link to the website because it is an interactive map. Once you are on their page, you will see a bar with dates beneath the map of the US. You can slide a bar to see how the peak foliage spreads all across the country over the coming weeks. We thought you might want to use it to figure out the right time to do some leaf-peeping in our area…or on a weekend trip…or get an idea of the color of the leaves while we are away on retreat. Just click here to visit the website.
As you can well imagine, no predictions are 100% accurate. So here’s an idea - simply step outside to see how accurate the Fall Foliage predictor map really is! Which leads us to our next topic…seeing…and how it can be divine…
Visio Divina in October
God speaks to us in many ways – through relationships, our experiences, Holy Scriptures, and many other avenues. At this time of year, God can certainly speak to us through the beauty of creation and the changing of the seasons.
Visio divina is Latin for divine seeing and is a practice similar to lectio divina but is practiced with images. It is a prayer practice that allows us to encounter God’s presence in what we see and embraces multiple aspects of ourselves. We are drawing from a variety of resources to bring you this brief post on visio divina - and invite you to consider joining us in this prayer practice during October.
Tim Mooney in his post about visio divina on Patheos notes the following:
“With our culture becoming more and more visually oriented, an intentional way of praying with images is needed now more than ever. Visio Divina invites us to see at a more contemplative pace. It invites us to see all there is to see, exploring the entirety of the image. It invites us to see deeply, beyond first and second impressions, below initial ideas, judgments, or understandings. It invites us to be seen, addressed, surprised, and transformed by God who is never limited or tied to any image, but speaks through them.”
An important thing to keep in mind before beginning this practice is your expectations of what might happen. We encourage you not to have any! You may or may not have any grand revelations. The point is to practice and to offer quiet time to be attentive to God’s presence, to spend time with your Creator and the lover of your soul.
Like lectio divina, Latin for ‘divine reading’, visio divina has four steps:
1. Look at the image and let your eyes stay with the very first thing that you see. Keep your attention on that one part of the image that first catches your eye. Try to keep your eyes from wandering to other parts of the picture. Breathe deeply and let yourself gaze at that part of the image for a minute or so.
2. Take a second, deeper, look. Let your eyes gaze at the whole image. Take your time and look at every part of the photograph. See it all. Reflect on the image for a minute or so. Where is there movement? What relationships do you see? Engage your imagination. Where are you in the photo? What do you see from that perspective? What deeper meaning emerges?
3. Consider the following questions: What emotions does this image evoke in you? What does the image stir up in you, bring forth in you? What deeper meaning emerges? Does this image lead you into an attitude of prayer? If so, let these prayers take form in you. Write them down if you desire. Respond to the image with prayer. Did the image remind you of an experience, place or moment for which you’d like to offer thanksgiving or intercession? Offer that prayer to God.
4. Find your quiet center. Breathe deeply. Relax your shoulders, arms and legs. Rest in this quiet. Let God pray in you. God prays beyond words.
How this works
We are hoping to offer you a variety of images with which to pray...images provided by you, the Band of Sisters. As you are out and about during this beautiful month, keep your phone camera or traditional camera handy - and grab a shot of what catches your eye. Send it to email@example.com and we will post it on the visio divina prayer page.
Feel free to send a description of your time in prayer or your prayer request - along with your picture. We will be most happy to post them together…anonymously, of course…unless you request otherwise.
You are encouraged to check back for new images throughout the month of October. As Christine Valters Paintner says in The Artist’s Rule : Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom: “there are a multitude of layers that can't be exhausted with just one sitting. Honor the art as an expression and allow it to continue to reveal its meaning.” Just as we revisit Scriptures and find various levels of meaning, the same is true of art. Consider practicing visio divina with us in October - at whatever level of involvement feels right for you. We’ll be watching for those images of Fall…
Also upcoming this month
Dipped and Dyed in Prayer - our Fall retreat - will be taking place on October 21, 22, 23 at St. Francis Springs Prayer Center. We currently have 32 women registered. As members of the Band, we ask that you keep all of us in your prayers during this special time away.
Our visit to Historic Oakwood Cemetery comes right on the heels of our retreat. We hope you will make plans to be with us as we remember our beloved departed and then take a guided tour of the cemetery. Our focus for the tour will be on women of note from the community who are buried in Oakwood. That gathering is scheduled for Monday, October 28 at 10:30am. Please visit the calendar page of the website and scroll to the event. You will see a place where you can sign up - so we know to expect you. We will meet outside the main office of the cemetery - which is located inside the front gate and up a little incline. Oakwood Cemetery is at 701 Oakwood Avenue.