Paulsell: Rereading

“ In a course on contemplative prayer, I assigned just six books. – and we read them each twice.”

Stephanie Paulsell, “ Faith Matters, Reread it again, The inexhaustible spiritual practice of rereading,” Christian Century,  January 17, 2018, p. 27.

Bill Murray taking music lessons in movie, Ground Hog Day

Bill Murray taking music lessons in movie, Ground Hog Day

There are so many books I want to read. When friends tell me they are rereading a book, I roll my eyes away from them and wonder about all the  other books they are missing. Stephanie Paulsell, a professor at Harvard Divinity School, tells me to roll my eyes back toward my friends and listen to what they are learning. 

Certainly we all have experienced studying again the most reread book, the Bible,  especially if we try to follow a systematic study of yearly lectionary readings. It never fail that we see things the second or third or tenth time that  we never saw or heard previously, probably because our life experiences and concentration are different. How could we have missed before that word or that meaning or what that person was doing?

During this year  I have been blogging about spiritual direction and  reconnecting  to authors and books I have read  in the past that have been meaningful to me. I am rereading material I underlined a year ago or ten years ago and sometimes fifty years ago. As Paulsell suggests, I have become more intimate with the texts and am called to practice more intently some of the teachings presented, “continuing to see  things I have not seen before.  The authors and their books for some reason now more deeply intersect with my life.”  I must admit that yes, rereading and reconnecting  to writers is remembering truths I have forgotten and seeing truth which I previously overlooked. I would compare it to Bill Murray’s experience in Ground Hog Day .