A scribe at her desk

It is good to be back at my desk. The bookstore was not an entirely negative experience but it was extremely difficult for me, an introvert. While at my job before the bookstore I had a desk and my own space. I shared a room with three other people but I now realize I took a desk for granted. At the bookstore my only private domain was my shelf in the break room, a box of wood labeled "Jenni." I stocked the children's section so I guess that was also my space but there were always customers in my face even when I tried hard to ignore them. My desk at home is even more ideal than my previous desk job. I don't share an office with anyone; well, my desk is located in our bedroom so I do share the room with Johnny but not when I'm writing. He respects closed doors and allows me to temporarily use our room as a workspace. Plus, he is often at his own desk in our study (when not teaching in his studio off the I-10 freeway) practicing drums on his quiet practice pad, updating his web site, joking around and/or debating theology on various message boards, or doing what he is right now: copying a book of the Bible by hand.

He got this idea from his friend David Ohlerking who in turn got it from Deuteronomy 17:18-20. I've seen Johnny copying the Bible into spiral notebooks for months while I lounged on the couch with my Bible. There is nothing wrong with only reading the Bible but the longer Johnny copied, it improved his understanding and memorization of Scripture. One of the many reasons I married Johnny is his wisdom. 99% of what he says or thinks is simply correct (the 1% being typical human error. My typical human error is a much higher percentage). Following his example I decided to try my hand as a scribe of sorts with the exception that I have no artistic talent to use calligraphy or illumination like the medieval monks of yore. On Monday morning I pulled out an oversized blank journal and a UniBall Deluxe Micro pen and proceeded to copy all three readings: Psalm 72, Ezekiel 38:14-end, and Revelation 1:12-end. I chose to copy the readings versus a book of the Bible as Johnny does only because I love how the daily Lectionary readings were designed to fit together. My plan was too ambitious - not so much because my hand hurt but the length of time necessary to write the first two readings! As of today my plan changed to write only the Old Testament reading each morning and read the Psalms and New Testament as well as the Evening readings. I chose to write the Old Testament because unfortunately I'm least familiar with the OT books. In addition I will copy a chapter of Song of Solomon this month mainly because I want to understand it better; Solomon's Song is rarely taught in any Church because it is "too sensual." This is a grievous reflection on most Churches.

My Biblical memory does not match my husband's yet but I have a hunch this scribal process will be very beneficial. As a writer I enjoy moving a pen across paper so Johnny's idea is a good fit, but it is also a discipline. As I copy Scripture letter by letter, word by word, the slower process of writing with a pen forces me to pay closer attention to the most wonderful book ever written by the very breath of God. On somewhat of a tangent, this reminds me of an interview with author Umberto Eco I heard on the radio driving back from Dallas recently. I wish to God I could have recorded it; he was charming with a thick Italian accent, very jovial, and seemed highly intelligent. Forgive my lack of details but the interviewer asked Mr. Eco how he writes: pen, computer, what? Umberto Eco gave an eloquent answer, one I desperately wish I remembered verbatim, but similar to this quote (which I found here)*, "As a writer I have discovered there are certain kinds of things for which I still need the pen, there are certain things for which I need the computer, certain things for which I need a felt-tipped pen. And the kind of instrument I am using is influencing my writing enormously." On the radio he also said something to the effect that a pen offers more resistance when he is working through an idea and wanting to think slowly and carefully as opposed to the quicker usage of a computer when his ideas flow easily. Likewise, as I copy God's Word with my pen it is a blessed, forced way to make me ponder the Word of the Lord. Another form of lectio divina, perhaps?

*Umberto Eco uses a converted Church as his scriptorium! That is even better than my own space. Similarly, several years ago I dreamt of converting an old Church into my house. I would still do it if feasible. We have hints of that dream in our apartment, thanks to my Mom who generously gave us a prayer bench which kneels in our scriptorium/bedroom, and a pulpit of similar wood grain which rests beneath three of our icons in the living room. Thank you, Umberto, for reviving my dream. I will read your books soon, especially The Name of the Rose which I'm told is fantastic.

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