Skip to content

Story, faith and a hatred for reading

February 6, 2016


I’ve been unwell this last week, and maybe this is the reason for a post that is a little more reflective than normal:

I hated reading for most of the time I was in primary school. I would do anything to get out of it, and to avoid anyone finding out. I did pretty well and avoided reading to my teacher for quite some time. We had standard reading books that we so boring that I had no interest at all: I couldn’t care less what John had done with his ball, nor whether Janet was happy or not. I didn’t want to read these stupid books, but equally I didn’t want the trouble that came with openly refusing to do what my teacher told me to. So I figured out a sneaky way out. It worked too. Each week we would line up to read to the teacher. Each week I would join the line then, when I was 2 or 3 from the front, I would ‘forget’ something, go back to my place and then join the end of the line again.

I can’t remember exactly how long I got away with this but it was quite a while, then I was caught. I had to read and was forced to read to my Mam each night. This very nearly put me off reading for ever. Then something amazing happened, a new book was read to us during story time. I loved it. I couldn’t get enough of it. I was loving it but the other children weren’t, so the teacher decided to move back to a simpler book for story time. I complained, and before I realised what I was doing, I asked to borrow the book to read at home. It was way above my reading level but the teacher said, “Yes”, and the rest is history.

That book, was “The Hobbit” by JRR Tolkien and, now I had the interest and passion, I could read just fine. That was the first ‘real’ book I read from cover to cover. The second such book, came a week or two later, “The Lord of the Rings”, again by Tolkien.

Looking back, I discovered the power of the realm of story. The power of a story to captivate and change the way I saw the world. From those early books I learned about simple courage that could turn an ordinary person into a hero. I learned about friendship and perseverance, and about the fundamental battle between good and evil. I also learned a love of reading, of enquiry; of searching for answers.

Many years later this searching led to me finding a faith. A faith that I found I already had but it seemed to have spent the preceding years doing it’s best to hide. Then my love of reading led me to read the ‘God-story’ in the Bible. It was like that first book all over again. I couldn’t put it down. I would read my pocket Bible every spare minute. I devoured it. It was the doorway to a whole new world for me. A doorway to a world that made sense at last. A world where my inner sense that there was more to life than met the eye was shown to be real; and not far away but here and now. I read the Written Word like a starving man crams in food.

I then met the Living Word when I experienced the Spirit for the first time. I had read about the theory, now was time for my first practical. I suddenly discovered that what I read about was for real, and that blew my mind even more. It was as though I had gone up the mountain with James, and John and Peter and had seen Jesus transfigured (Luke 9.28-36). But instead of just Jesus glowing, everything now had that glow of glory. Every created thing was now clearer, more beautiful and precious. Nothing around me had changed in the least. It was me that had changed. I could now see something of the Creator in the creation. I could see the Life-giver, in the life around me. A glimpse of ‘heaven’ had burst through into this mundane world. Or more accurately, my eyes had been opened so that I could begin to see what had been there in front of me the whole time.

Now, many years on, the Spirit keeps on that work of transfiguration. I’ll admit, there are days when all seems dark and the light of God seems like a distant, long gone, fantasy. Those days happen but the Spirit still shines in the darkness and the darkness doesn’t win, not in the end. I am finding that, over time, more and more of this world is being transformed, transfigured and I can see or feel God at work.

I see the brightness and, for a moment at least, I see that the evil and corruption in this world cannot triumph. I see the stories on the news and, for a brief moment at least, I have the faith to know for certain, like Julian of Norwich, that “all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well”.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: