My husband reads with a pen. Often when I pull a book off our shelves, I get engrossed in his tiny writing interacting with the text. His wide margin Bible is a treasure of comments, cross references and questions. I want to bequeath this Bible to our oldest son.
It is one thing to open a virginal book and quite another to turn pages that give off a human scent. Pages that have touched life. Pages that have a history. Pages with spot of coffee or a finger smudge. Pages spattered with a reader’s mental sweat.
We own, not a few, books from a used bookstore in England. Their former owners’ names are inscribed inside in dated penmanship. These books are gently marked in faint pencil. I read them knowing that more than one hundred years ago another ate from this page as I do now.
I met a woman who has journaled through my latest book, Pursue the Intentional Life, several times. Rereading. Taking notes. Putting the ideas into her own words. Writing with personal slant. Other women have told me that they have underlined large portions of the book. One said she wrote, “WOW! wow! Wow!” in the margin of one page. I love the beautiful personal defacement that points to an engaged reader.
Reading is an art and a skill to be cultivated. How often have we heard someone say, “I read in the Bible this morning, but I can’t remember a thing I read?” Sometimes we read over the tops of the words, distracted. A few tips can make a huge difference.
What ideas might move you towards a more reverent immersion in Bible reading? Less like water-skiing, bumping over the wake at break-neck speed, and more like scuba-diving? Something happens when you submerge to take in a shimmering school or an undulating ray. Submerge and pull out your pen. Leave a trace. It’s a way to enter into the mystery.