I could not stop staring at the group of women huddled over a book in the corner. I took my 5 year old daughter to Panera for a treat in the middle of the morning. A group of 8-10 women were in active discussion, leaning in over the table and over their books. What were they reading?
Trying not to appear nosy, I would look over to see what they were studying. Of course I assumed it was a Bible Study. Maybe a small group meeting of Bible Study Fellowship because these women were serious. Their large books were worn with lots of creases. The covers were soft and the ink was wearing thin along the spine. The women had notebooks, flashcards, and those little post-it flags stuck out from the book. This was not casual discussion; these women were truly studying this book.
I quickly realized the books were not Bibles. That just ratcheted up my curiosity all the more. Whatever these women were reading, it was truly important to them. They were studying this book. The story was so influential to them they meet to discuss its impact on their lives.
The women packed up their books and began to leave. I was prepared to run one of them down to find out what they were reading. I REALLY wanted to know what was so important to them that they met to discuss, took notes, read and re-read until the spine was creased. Finally, as the last woman passed my table I caught the title, Infinite Jest.
I am not proud to admit that I had never heard of it. I immediately went home and googled it. When I found out that it was published during my graduate school days, I felt better. Who has time to read anything except what is on the syllabus when in graduate school? But my own pride is not the point.
The point for me was I really wanted to know what was so meaningful to these women. What narrative was so important to their lives that it received so much time, attention, and care?
And then I realized that I do not treat my Bible that way. I claim that its narrative is the defining narrative of my life, but my Bible is not nearly as worn with care. In fact, I read the Bible on my Kindle most often.
I am not proposing that we all start holding our small group meetings in public places to show off our commitment to learning the Word. But it did make me wonder how people who are not Christians view my relationship with the Bible? How do we hold, read, care, and study this narrative that defines our lives?
For the past few weeks I have carried my Bible in my person. The good, old-fashioned bound paper version. I bring it to church and small group, but also to the Ice Palace where my kids take ice skating lessons (yes, the Olympics were an influence). I am beginning to live with it, embarrassed that I have cared more about my iphone at my side than my Bible. Because if this book truly contains the defining narrative of my life, then I should give it much more time, attention and care than I do. At least as much attention as the women studying Infinite Jest.