By Cathy Luchetti
So I’m reading the New York Review of Books and gazing out over the trees of Claremont Canyon that rise up through the mist. The view, gentle as moss, seems just right for catching up on reading. I’ve canceled the Economist because I just couldn’t keep up every week. The Economist is like the gym, a place to go and work out just to stay in shape.
So now, curled-up, comfy, and scanning page after page of book reviews, my mind seems satisfied by a short essay about the book, in the same way that it used to get from reading the book. The results of a shrunken attention span! And it’s not just me. I hear it from my friends:
“Sorry, here’s your book back. I just couldn’t finish it.”
“Pretty good book. I only got half way through. Loved it, though..”
Is this how it will go with the bible? If I have an “internet” mind, one that will scan, graze, and leap light-footed as a mountain goat, always on the move, sniffing the air for change, ready to caper, slide, cavort, or just stand there, gazing out, what does this mean for devotion? A mind that multi-tasks then forgets the multi is deeply discouraging.
How to grapple with fragmentation? I have to remind myself that even if I fall apart, or fall behind, that still God is ahead of me, beside me and behind me. With God, there is no falling behind. No fragmenting. That He will make a way for me, whatever my drawbacks. That with the bible, He will make straight a path.
Since I’m a writer, I like to think of God as a publisher. God is Random House and Norton and Harper-Collins combined, plus all the others, too. Out comes this extraordinary book, the bible. Chapter and verse, the book looms, both instrument of delight and occasional roadblock.
I have favorite chapters in the book, everyone does. Numbers seems like numbers theory, dense and slightly unfathomable, while Psalms are my friends for the road, swinging along between “he” and “thee,” as buoyant and unfathomable as Joyce. Who was talking then, man or God? And so it goes, each section prompting a new response.
Matthew was a former tax man, Mark a wanderer, Luke a doctor, and John a youngster. None, orators or public speakers, yet all employed in the work of the message.
The enormity of the bible only reveals my inability to take it all in. Yet there it sits in front of me, ever looming. It invites me, and I will pursue it, even try and memorize passages, and do so daily.
Suddenly something happens. I’ve been reading Revelations and as clearly as if someone had highlighted the book, I see the word “overcomes.” Revelation 3:21 – “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with me on my throne, as I also overcame and sat down with my Father on His throne.”
There it is again, overcomes.
Suddenly, I see meaning in the word “overcome.”
God has given my fragmented mind a fragment. In the midst of complexity God has provided a gentle nudge, a one-word start, a kind of editing, much like a book review. I’m being guided by this particular word, which seems to speak to my life. It speaks to the private habits that need overcoming.
Finding this word seeded in the text is as if the text has been broken down just for me with a word that has meaning.
Now, I will directly link
With personal habits I am trying to
To pray about them and then
Simple. Probably ordinary, too. But delivered straight to me, just like the New York Review of Books. And really, one word, one short review isn’t enough. So the next day I’m back at it again, reading another passage and waiting for the word, the phrase, or the thought to reveal itself. A short, tiny fragment for the internet mind.