A Reading Streak Concluded…

To read part 2 of this reading streak saga, click here… Now onto part 3!

gospel of mark
The Gospel of Mark

June came, and with it a brief four day foray into the book of Mark. My church had just put on The Mark Drama, and after 6 weeks of memorizing the structure of Mark and talking about Mark and then rehearsing and performing over an intense weekend, it was finally over. Post-production blues had definitely hit, and I was glad to spend just a few more days in the company of this Gospel with Mum. The only reason we read it was because that particular day, Mum had a migraine and we couldn’t find our other book option. So instead, we lay in the dimness of her room, and read Mark. It was a very good call. Mark was always a very special gospel to me because of performing The Mark Drama with my church, but reading it with my Mum just added to the precious memories I have associated with the book.

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no 1 ladies
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency – Alexander McCall Smith

This was the book that brought me through my graduation. Finally, finally, finally! It seemed as if the 6th of July would never come. As I pushed to finish high school, it was a blessing to take 10 minutes of my otherwise jam-packed days and head out to the African bush in my imagination. I would wash dinner dishes Mum read to me, the clamour of my younger siblings on the trampoline floating in through the open door. It was summer by the time this book finished, and we read the last chapter with me in Dublin airport and Mum back at home. With graduation over, the countdown to university was getting lower and lower, and I was headed on a long-anticipated weeklong mission trip to Ireland…

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let me be a woman
Let Me Be a Woman – Elisabeth Elliot

This book will always be inextricably intertwined with Ireland for me. We started this book whilst I was away on my mission trip in that beautiful country full of warm-hearted people that so desperately need the gospel. I would sneak out after team meetings in the evening and sit on the pavement outside the church where we were staying, listening over the phone to Mum read Elliot’s words of wisdom regarding all things womanhood. Or I would perch outside on a windowsill in the fresh morning air, taking 10 minutes to listen to Mum read before the day’s activities started. I’ll confess it was often a struggle to concentrate on what she was reading. My heart and mind were full with the laughter and fellowship that our team shared during that week, but also burdened by the need that we were faced with when doing outreach among the community. I would often have to shake myself out of my wandering thoughts and focus my brain on what Mum was reading to me – after all, it was valuable stuff! 

~

screwtape letters
The Screwtape Letters – C.S. Lewis

We were down to the last month before I left home… What a month it was! We read Screwtape amidst the busy-ness of it all – a graduation trip to London to see a show in the West End, a goodbye open house where 80 odd people showed up. I also worked a 50 hour work week, packed up my entire life into 3 boxes and 2 suitcases, and went to a youth camp for a few glorious, frantic days. This was a month of transition and change and goodbyes. It was nice to have the anchor of reading with Mum through it all. Every day was one less day at home… But every day also brought a few precious moments to hide ourselves away in my bedroom and read a little bit more about Screwtape and Wormwood. Mum and I both were captured by the genius of this book and encouraged by the wisdom it revealed.

~

enjoy your prayer life
Enjoy Your Prayer Life – Michael Reeves

We read this little book over the last few days before I moved into college, during the trip across the ocean and the manic few days shopping and prepping and unpacking and repacking. To be very honest, my memories regarding this book are few. I know it was a punchy and impactful read. But there is only so much your brain can retain when you have moved 5000 miles across the ocean and are just about to step into the new adventure called university.

This I do remember… We finished this book late at night, curled up on an air mattress at my grandparent’s house. The light was bright and I was tired after a busy day. It was a typical scene for us – one that had played out many times during our reading sessions over the past few months.

But this time was different. When Mum read the last page and shut the book, we sat in silence for a moment. We both knew that it was the end of an era. The next day I would move into university, and we would say goodbye. She would fly home, and I would begin my life as a university student. We were standing on the edge of a threshold, and I would be the one to take the step across it, leaving her behind. 

She prayed for me that night. I don’t remember exactly what she said. But I do remember her arms around me, holding me close. 

~

Thus ended our 387 day reading streak – over a year without missing a day of reading together. I had no idea when we started reading that hot August afternoon in 2018 just how impactful our reading streak would be for our relationship. We spent a year together in the company of books – stories and wisdom, poetry and gospel. The words that she read to me did more than just entertain and educate me – they served to knit our hearts together in a special and unique way. 

So here’s to my precious Mama and the 387 days in a row that she read to me – each book we read was a joy, but the time we spent together was the far greater gift. ❤

I’d love to hear any thoughts you might have regarding this reading streak! Have you ever done anything similar? Let’s chat in the comments!

Poem – Beauty Restored

As you read this I will most likely be in a large hall with 14 other people, rehearsing for a performance of the gospel of Mark. The rehearsal is all day followed by a performance, thus I’m scheduling this post ahead of time… xD Let me explain a little bit more so you’re not confused.

The Mark Drama is a 90 minute performance by 15 actors of all the incidents of Mark’s gospel, done in theatre-in-the-round style. It’s actually genius, and I’m absolutely thrilled that my church is doing it. I’m playing the role of James, one of the four disciples of Jesus and it’s grand fun! It’s a super intense weekend with about 13 hours of rehearsals and then 2 performances all in the space of about 72 hours. It’s incredibly powerful for both the cast and the audience, and I’m so excited to see how God is going to use this to bring people to Him! 

Anyhow… You may be wondering why I’m disclosing this random piece of information to you… 😀 Well, it does relate, I promise. You see, today I’m going to be sharing a poem based on an incident in Mark’s gospel – the second half of Mark 5 to be exact. It is the story of a woman who struggled with a mysterious bleeding disease for 12 years, and, well… I’ll let you read the poem for yourself. 😉

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I didn’t think much of it when it started – the bleeding I mean…

I’m a woman after all

But when it didn’t stop and didn’t stop and didn’t stop….

Then I noticed it.

‘Unclean!’ silently screaming from my prolonged shame

As scarlet shadowed me until I became just a wraith of my former self

Clothed in humiliation as my body betrayed me day after day –

 A malfunctioning vessel, weakened and a failure

That’s what I was.

Blood led to doctors

and more blood led to more doctors.

Days turned into months that turned into years,

And still I was haunted by that scarlet shame that clung to me no matter

How hard I prayed, how many doctors I tried…

Still I was unclean –

Weakened by the years, the disease digging deeper into my flesh every day

I withered like a flower under the noon day sun –

A thing of beauty destroyed under a power greater than I.

 

I didn’t think much of him when I first heard – a wandering, Nazarite carpenter….

A miracle maker?

Ha, I wish.

This Galilean teacher with hordes of people following him – how could he

Find me and take the time to touch me and to heal me?

I’d given up on miracles years ago, living hopelessly day by day, watching

As my body failed me a little more and weakened just a little more

And still – scarlet haunted me.

But somehow, underneath the weary waiting I still clung to a small hope that perhaps –

Perhaps this man might be different

From every other man that has tried to heal me.

Stupid, I know.

But still…

And so I went when I heard he was coming to town,

Creeping through alleys and behind houses, cringing every time I heard

“Unclean!” echoing in my ears as the people recoiled from me.

Somehow slipping through the masses of people, I made it close to him –

Close enough to see the dust caked on his feet and to catch a glimpse

Of those quiet eyes with a glint of something strange within their depths.

I didn’t dare call out to him, didn’t dare call attention to my shame, didn’t dare….

Only touch the edge of his robe and perhaps this rumoured power

Can heal me?

Stooping, covering my face, trembling fingers brush the hem of a worn and dusty cloth

I feel the sun hot on my back

The ground hard beneath my feet

And then

Who touched me? – comes his voice ringing through the clamour of people

A nervous laugh and a whispered conversation and in that instant I know

I am that one.

Trembling with fear and shame – nothing new to me – I step forwards,

Do I dare to look at him? One glance into those eyes and I know he has seen

My scarlet-hued shame and the deepest corners of my secret soul.

I fall down to that familiar place – my knees digging into dust and words tumble

Like the flood spilling over the sides of my eyes

Daughter

He speaks, lifting my shame from my weary shoulders

Go in peace. Your faith has made you well

And with those words he lifts me to my feet and – and

Somehow I know my shame is gone

forever.

 

I didn’t know what to think after that… – after that moment with that man.

All I knew was that my scarlet shame had been lifted like a broken curse

From my weary body

And I was free.

I felt myself blooming like a flower under the morning sun

And I knew that I had become

A thing of beauty restored by a power greater than I.

~

Aaand that’s it for today! Thanks for reading! 🙂

So, what do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the poem in the comments below! Also, have you ever heard of The Mark Drama?