Tapestry of Faith: A Place of Wholeness: A Program for Youth Exploring Their Own Unitarian Universalist Faith Journeys

Alternate Activity 1: Lectio Divina

Activity time: 30 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Make enough copies of Handouts 1 and 3 for all participants. If you choose, you can write the information on Handout 3 on newsprint instead of giving participants copies of the handout.

Description of Activity

This activity uses an ancient religious practice of Christian monastics called Lectio Divina (Latin for divine reading). This spiritual practice will draw participants into deep reflection about some of the source texts relating to the Unitarian Universalist theology of love.

Read or summarize the following script. If distributing Handout 3, Lectio Divina, you can do that now as well.

In this activity, we will be using an ancient Christian monastic religious practice called Lectio Divina to go deeper into some of the text that is at the foundation of a Unitarian Universalist theology of love. Lectio Divina is Latin for "divine reading" and Christian monks have used this practice for centuries to gain a deeper understanding of the Bible and other writings that are important to them. We are not Christian monks, so the practice does not hold the same meaning for us as it does to them. Yet, we can still gain some insight from this practice.

Lectio Divina has four stages or moments. They are lectio, meditatio, oratio and contemplatio.

In the first moment, lectio, you should just sit and read and re-read the text. Do this slowly and pay close attention to the meaning of each word and the meaning of the whole sentence and passage.

Keep reading it until a word or short phrase (no more than 3 or 4 words) catches your attention. Once this has happened, you have entered the second moment called meditatio.

Stay with these words and think about them deeply. What do they mean in the context of your life? What do they say that could teach you something new or more profound about yourself? Spend some time in this moment and just be with these words.

Then it is time to enter the third moment which is oratio. In this moment open your heart up to whatever you feel connects you to the rest of the Universe: God or Goddess, Nature, the Spirit of Life, love for all humankind. In that space, ask yourself what these words are calling you to do. How are you different because you have read these words? Again spend some time in this moment.

The last moment, contemplatio, is kind of a release and celebration. Christian monks think about it in terms of basking in the love of God and the pleasure of deeper understanding. This should be a relaxing moment, taking the time to just feel rather than think.

When you enter into this spiritual practice, try to spend three or four minutes in each moment. Christian monks will spend hours or even days in each moment. But that takes practice, so for right now let us just try this out.

Distribute Handout 1, Source Text for a Theology of Love. Ask them to pick one of the quotes to use in the exercise you have just described. Tell them that once they find a quote they like, they should find a quiet place to sit and do the practice.

If possible, let them finish naturally. It can be disruptive to get called back to the group if you have not finished on your own. Encourage those who are done early to be quiet and let the others finish. After all have completed the practice, gather everyone and offer the following reflection questions:

  • How did it feel to do this?
  • What did you get out of it?
  • Did you learn anything about yourself?