Date: Tuesday evenings
Location: Online via Zoom
In February 2019, I led a workshop on the ancient monastic practice of Lectio Divina as part of a Prayer & Spirituality Day at Exeter Cathedral. It was one of a number of workshops to enable people could explore different spiritual practices and ways to pray. The session was for people who wanted to use the Bible as a way into prayer, and it also aimed to be useful for people who would like to learn a new way of praying and sharing in groups. So as a follow-up, I produced some resources to help people learn about and practise Lectio Divina. Here are those leaflets for sharing and printing:
When the COVID lockdown started, I offered my IT skills to help connect the congregation of Exeter Cathedral, and bring people together at a very challenging time for some. I also offered to lead weekly Zoom meetings and chose to use the format of group Lectio Divina. Initially an experiment and a bit of a step into the unknown (or should that be Unknown?), it has proved to work extremely well. Zoom coffee meetings have their place, but stay very much on the surface, and sometimes are little more than cries of “can you hear me?” or “your video has frozen”. The very structured format of group Lectio holds open a space for much deeper encounters with both God and each other.
We meet on Tuesday evenings. The Zoom joining details are publicly available, so it is a porous group made up of whoever happens to be there. We might be strangers drawn from the corners of the UK – strangers despite having seen each other face-to-face in the Cathedral weekly on Sunday mornings for years – but that does not stop us sharing deeply about how the Holy Spirit is moving in our lives.
We use the Gospel reading set in the Lectionary for the Tuesday. I started by leading each week for the first few weeks, and then opened it up to others to offer to lead, and now take it in turns with one other. Each of us also led Lectio taster sessions as part of Exeter Diocese’s 24×10 prayer room during Thy Kingdom Come between Ascension and Pentecost. These comprised two cycles of half-an-hour using two readings from the Lectionary for the day.
Numbers in the group have usually been about six, from a pool of around ten regulars and a few who have dipped their toes in for one session but cannot usually make Tuesdays. The 40 minute limit on free Zoom has proved to be a valuable constraint. It helps with the practicality of making time. It also, importantly, ensures that we do not start with chit-chat and that our contributions are focused, while also being spacious enough to be relaxed. But it also means that the comfortable upper limit for the group is probably eight. More than that, and we will need to consider using the Zoom break-out rooms to split randomly into two groups with the two leaders.
I have produced leaflets for group members and for leaders, as a guide through the set-up and the session. You are welcome to download and adapt them:
- Lectio Divina on Zoom for group members (pdf)
- Lectio Divina on Zoom for leaders (pdf)
- Leaflet for Thy Kingdom Come (pdf)
Of course, it would be preferable to meet together in the flesh. But holding the group online means that it is much easier to meet. There is no need to travel to a central location, which would have made it impracticable for some to join in for reasons of distance and time. At the moment the evenings are light and the weather is mostly good, but in winter months many people do not like to go out on dark evenings, and a cycle journey in the cold and wet tends to be unappealing. So while I had been thinking of holding a group since the 2019 workshop, the practicalities and time involved had put me off. Now it is possible, and I hope it will continue beyond the end of lockdown.