Spiritual Growth: Bible Scripture
A few weeks ago, as I prepared for a women’s retreat, I was asked to do a reflection on Scripture. Because this is about writings from the Bible it is obviously a Christian based article.
I was raised as a “real Catholic kid”: pre-K through Teacher Training college I had nuns all the way! I received formal Religious Instruction classes right through college, but I never remember discussing the Bible let alone opening and reading it. “Bible” was a word that described a holy book, but it was a book that I never read.
I saw my first TV program when I was about 10 years old. It was a movie about a guy whose face had been terribly disfigured and he was a witness in a court case. I remember the movie because of his horrible face and because he swore on the Bible, and that seemed an oxymoron to me because swearing was about bad words, and why would he do that on a Bible??
I have vague memories of certain stories being read at Mass: the Prodigal Son, the Seed Sewer, the Marriage at Caana, but I didn’t associate them with the Bible. The readings were either “cool” stories, boring sermons, or fear-creating admonitions that were part of the Mass.
Picasso had his “Blue Period”; after high school I had my “Black Period”. It lasted approximately 18 years and during this time I had little or no connection with God or the Bible. But thank goodness for the God of Ephesians 2: 4-5: “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love He had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life in Christ (by grace you have been saved).”
After coming out of my “Black Period” I stumbled along in church but carried all the old knowledge and fear of God. Slowly scriptures began to have some meaning for me as I came out of the dark, but I was still just hearing the word of God, not reading it.
In 1983, thirty-nine years old, I received my very first Bible. It was given to me by the niece of a dear Italian friend, Wanda. who had died. Anna-Maria gave me the Bible because she thought I was “holy” – I actually went to Mass every Sunday!! I remember glancing through it and thinking of Wanda then ……. I put it on my bookshelf.
Years passed and by the grace of God I continued growing spiritually and grew stronger in my faith. I began to conscientiously pay attention to scripture and somewhere between ‘86-89 I joined a mixed denomination Bible Study Group. Rev. 3:20 “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with Me.”
But I was resistant, the old rebel at heart. I felt “apart from” my Protestant sisters who could recite the Bible inside out. I slunk away feeling very inferior but really it was false pride. Sirach 10: 12-13 “The beginning of pride is man’s stubbornness in withdrawing his heart from his Maker: for pride is the reservoir of sin, a source which runs over with vice.”
Finally I think God took pity on me! In 2004 He sent me on a wonderful retreat experience – Christ Renews His Parish (CRHP). There I discovered the sweet joy of the Holy Spirit who has become a strong vibrant fire in my soul. During my CRHP retreat I was encouraged to dive into the Bible and find nurturing comfort for my soul. In the years between 1979 and 2004 I had been reading daily meditational books which for the most part contained scripture verses alongside a theme reflection. I read the reflection, but always skipped the scripture. Today I not only read the Bible verses but I also spend time reflecting on them, savoring them and seeing just how they connect with the theme and what application they have in my life.
I have come to love the Psalms. If I get too busy I think of 46:10 “Be still and know I am God”. When I am burdened or overwhelmed I read 23:2 “In green pastures you let me graze; to safe waters you lead me.” As I gather with friends for prayer or meditation, I frequently think of Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” And when I am unsure of my direction there are no verses more comforting and encouraging than Jeremiah 29:12-12 “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord. Plans for your welfare, not for your woe! Plans to give you a future full of hope. When you call me, when you go to pray to me, I will listen to you.”
The Bible is no longer a book that sits on my bookshelf. Sometimes it is by my bed. At other times it is on the coffee table, or my desk, and other days it can be found on the patio table. I have attached book tabs so that I can easily locate a verse that I am looking for. It is showing signs of wear and tear. Scripture has meaning in my life today.