by Lindsey Funtik, Coordinator of Volunteer Ministries, Ashland First United Methodist Church, Ashland, Ohio
Sometimes an ocular headache can be worn as a badge of honor. On the days when my spirit gives her loudest cries of exhaustion the first and most helpful balm is to open a book and read until it hurts. I bore so deep into my pages that I become fused and come hell or high water or husband who is wary of how the house has fallen a little *too* quiet, it is nigh on impossible to rip us asunder, my stories and I.
Despite the fact that Jesus is at the core of who I am, despite the truths that I believe (healing belongs to the Kingdom of God, Sabbath rest rejuvenates, etc.), I rarely open the pages of Scripture when seeking to make my pupils strain. Somehow, the thought of reading that particular book, of being confronted with my own fragility and finitude, of actually leaning into the shoulder that the Living God stoops down as a pillow for my head, exhausts me even further. Why look into a mirror when I can stare at something else that lets me into foreign minds with which I don’t have to contend? Why examine what brought me to my knees when I can attach myself, parasitic, to characters that don't truly exist and are therefore untouchable?
It's funny, though, how so many heroines flee only to find themselves in the fray after all.
This time, after a long and rewarding week of tipping myself over to pour and pour and pour, I finally ran into a hedge of unoccupied hours and I could not wreath myself in fiction fast enough. The story wove through mythical lands, ruled by fairies and toeing the precarious precipice of war. I snarled at the bad guy and I swooned at the romance and I allowed myself to be swept up and up and up until my bird's eye view became an intimate one. I dreamed of those friends, existed on the equator that divided their world and mine, willing it to dissolve.
But then–the tale became a bit more familiar. A fierce warrior, spelled Miryam this time, led her people across the floor of a parted sea to freedom. A creature of darkness and power was pleased to sweep by the thresholds of those who had painted lamb’s blood on their door frames. Ancient evils were unleashed and then bound, good defeated evil, sacrifice was necessary for the renewal of the world. There were heart palpitations in this novel that thudded out a rhythm of something greater.
It seemed the Bible had found me after all.
Allow me to lay out a big blanket statement: there is only one story, a single skeleton. It robes itself in different shades of flesh, its curves and angles are malleable and undulating, each in turn, but those bones are rock solid and existed before the beginning of time. It seems to me that, should we look closely enough (or perhaps even when we intentionally try to look away) we see that every word flows from the Word, every tale from the truest one, every narrative somehow, whether it means to or not, narrates to us the human existence, which alway, always, always kisses God.
Keep reading until the headache sets in, until the Spirit flares to life in your very own bones, which are a piece of that whole.
Cross-Posted from "Reflections on Faith, Words, and The Holiness of Today"