~by Kimberly Knowle-Zeller
Before becoming a mother I heard all the stories of how much I’d be reading to my children. How I’d be reading the same story night after night. How I’d have certain books memorized and possibly could recite them in my sleep. It sounded great at the time. How sweet and picture-perfect.
Now, I have a toddler daughter and know exactly what every parent who’s gone before me has talked about: the reading is never-ending!
My daughter loves books. She loves carrying them around. She loves putting them in piles. She loves flipping through the pages. She loves hearing the stories read outloud. She loves acting them out. She loves hearing stories.
Over and over and over again.
She never seems to tire of a story, in fact, once she finds one that really excites her, it’s all she wants to read. We’ll sit down and read through the book, she’ll put it down, and then not a minute later she’ll grab it again and say, “Read this.” She shoves it into my arms and places herself on my lap.
Over and over and over again.
I try not to say out loud, “Really, again? We just read that!” But it’s what is on my mind.
I wonder what it is about the specific stories that she loves, why she’s so captivated. I wonder how she can hear the same story over and over again. Days on end. I give thanks for authors and illustrators who speak to my daughter’s imagination.
And then I wonder why I don’t have that same awe and excitement for hearing stories over and over again?
Could it be that they become too commonplace?
Do I zone out when I’ve heard a familiar story thinking I know all there is to know about it?
For my daughter, stories never wear out their welcome.
Isn’t that what it’s like studying and reading the Bible? Don’t we hear the same stories over and over again, year after year? Don’t’ we sometimes think we know all there is about a certain biblical character? Or the Easter story? Or the Christmas story? I mean, we’ve been hearing them for as long as we’ve been involved in a church and for some that’s our entire lives.
Perhaps I need to take a lesson from my daugther.
Perhaps I need to find the awe once again in God’s story.
Perhaps I need to delight in the Word.
If I took a cue from my daughter whenever I read the Bible or heard the scriptures spoken out loud, I would rejoice at the stories and words. I would get excited. I would cheer for the words being spoken. I would revel in being present to the word.
Hearing God’s word, whether in church or on my own, would be an event in and of itself. It would be something to celebrate. It would be magical and hopeful and invigorating and challenging. It would be something I couldn’t get enough of.
If I had the same patience as my daughter I would want to hear the stories over and over again because I would know that deep down there is always something to learn. Something new to uncover. Something that I needed to hear at that moment.
Yes, I’ve been hearing the stories of the Bible since before I was born. But they’re not any less important or meaningful for me just because I’ve heard them more than once. The truth is that I learn something new every time I read scripture – if only I am willing.
I love reading on my own and with my daughter. I’m delighted that she has a love of books already. But there’s something deeper in this love and delight – the power of words and stories to transform lives. The power of God’s Word to come into our world and speak directly to us. In whatever situation we find ourselves. In whatever state of belief or doubt we are in.
Whether it’s Good Night Moon, The Nonsense Show, or the Book of Micah, the words found within are meant to inspire. And all stories point us to the Word in whom we all live and breathe and have our being.
If I followed my daughter’s lead I would never tire of learning and reading and sharing in the Good News. Perhaps I would even be as bold as to hand a Bible story and say to someone, “Read this!”
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of a toddler, and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, MO. Her website is http://www.kimberlyknowlezeller.com