This is my treat to myself since I’m going to spend my Friday night doing homework. Granted, it’s not labor intensive homework — it’s just a whole bunch of reading — but I am, nevertheless, spending my Friday night with schoolbooks.
They’re not bad companions at all. I mean, one of them is my world religions book, and the other is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. See what I mean? Well, maybe that doesn’t sound good to you. Maybe that sounds like torture.
I was thinking about when I learned to read this week. The first memory I have of reading in school is kindergarten. We had an assignment that had to do with coloring a picture of a pizza, and when my teacher asked for someone to read the directions out loud, I was the only one to raise my hand. Up until a little while ago, I thought that it meant that no one else knew how to read. Now, I think it might be something more like being shy, or maybe not wanting to be a blatantly annoying show-off. Even now, I notice that my teachers are so used to me having my hand up that they will make their way around the room, calling on everyone else before they finally decide to call on me. I know it’s nothing personal; they just want more than one person answering questions, making comments, contributing to discussion. Makes sense. (maybe that’s just wishful thinking)
I think I had this idea that if I knew the answer, I had to raise my hand. Because, if I didn’t, no one would know that I knew the answer.
Anyways, when I realized that I didn’t know how I learned to read, I asked my parents. Neither one of the really remembered, but when I asked each of them on separate occasions, they both said “well, we just read to you a lot.” I was expecting stories about them laboring with me for hours and hours with learning the alphabet and drilling me on reading by myself. I kind of felt cheated when I realized that I learned to read like I learned most other things from them, from the example they set.
So, now I’m okay with spending my night reading. Actually, it’s the most tame of the tasks on my list of things to do this weekend. It’s the pleasure in the productivity. My favorite of the books on the list is one called I Dared to Call Him Father, and even though I’ve only read half of it, I already would recommend it. It’s the true story of a Muslim woman who converts to Christianity after Jesus shows up in her life. And after she begins this relationship with Jesus, she’s learning to live in God’s presence. That’s something that maybe I’ve never picked up on in other people’s stories, or maybe no one’s ever focused on it. Usually, people say that the initial sense of God’s presence when you first meet Him is a “spiritual high,” that eventually it fades and you get used to the fact that we sometimes remove ourselves from God’s presence by the choices we make. But this woman, Bilquis Sheikh, absolutely refused to do anything that would remove her from God’s presence.
That’s just a revolutionary thought for me. Not settling to be out of God’s presence for a minute. And, really, it makes sense, because there isn’t anything better than being in God’s presence.
Needless to say, her perspective has given me something to chew on this week. And a book that I can’t wait to pick up again.