As the program year for the church begins many of us will return to more regular disciplines of prayer and study. For a lot of us this means more time reading the bible. In 1996 Billy Collins published Introduction to Poetry (Collins was Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 – 2003). I don’t know if Billy Collins believes in God or has ever read the bible but for me his poem is an apt hope for anyone about to renew a discipline to reading it:
Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins
I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide
or press an ear against its hive.
I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,
or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.
I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.
But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.
When reading the bible I have good days and bad days. On the bad ones I’m beating the bible with a hose in a desperate attempt to find out what it really means; torturing a confession out of it. On the good ones I’m holding it up to the light like a color slide as it tortures confessions out of me or the world of which I’m part. Blessings to all who in the months ahead will press an ear to its hive.