Several years ago, a friend shared her passion for Lectio Divina. She patiently explained the Latin words for each part of the process: lectio, meditatio, oratio, and contemplatio. She partnered with me in a “dress rehearsal” before launching me to independently engage in this ancient prayer practice. Eager is the best word to describe my emotions when it came time to engage in this contemplative practice, to which she was so committed. I settled into my chair with my Bible, read the Bible passage, and… thirty seconds later, I was composing my grocery list! After much mental scolding, I vowed to try again the next day, during which time I created a vacation itinerary. Believe me, the third day wasn’t any better. Why did this prayer practice work so well for my friend but not for me?
Enter Sybil MacBeth’s book Contemplate Scripture in Color (Paraclete Press, 2017), in which Sybil explained Lectio Divina in much the same way as my friend, but she incorporated paper, pencil/pen, and colored pencils into this spiritual practice. I gathered my materials, established my morning’s time/space boundaries, and settled in. Keys to my success included keeping my pen moving the entire time and jotting down my distractions for later consideration. This new attempt at being in God’s Word and in prayer was thoroughly enjoyable; however, I felt as if I was dangling. With whom could I share my morning’s thoughts and experiences? There was also a nagging feeling that the experience could’ve gone deeper, perhaps examining The Word from different angles and picking up on nuances in the passage about which I was currently lacking insight. Why did this new twist on Lectio Divina still not entirely quench my need?
Enter Visual Faith Ministry and the ancient practice of Lectio Divina paired with a visual component, a kinetic component, and a community with which to process my experience! As a member of the VFM Prayer Team, I had been blessed with the opportunity to “dip a toe” into the waters of this prayer practice during our team meetings. However, the “Take Heart – Lent” gathering was an absolute revelation for me. This VFM event provided templates on which to both write and add color, a Zoom link for a guided experience, and a community from whom to learn/with whom to share as we participated together in Lectio Divina during the first three days of Holy Week 2022.
As I reflect on those three mornings of practicing Lectio Divina with the VFM community, I am overcome with emotion at the depth and richness this ancient practice brought to my observance of Holy Week. Because I was guided by other VFM coaches and by my small group members for three days, I’m excited to continue in my commitment to interact with God’s Word and pray in a contemplative manner for the rest of Holy Week, Easter, and beyond. Already, I’m finding myself craving additional VFM Lectio Divina events during which to contemplate Scripture with this faith-filled community.
My prayer is that YOU will join us in this prayer practice during our May 17 PRAY DATE: The Ukraine, and that you will similarly crave further occasions to gather with this community, inviting your friends and family to do the same!