Marking it up

 Important disclaimer: I am fully aware of the fact that I am, have always been, and likely will always be a geek.

I couldn’t wait for college. All the usual reasons — getting away from the small town I lived in and my parents and all the people who thought they had a right to know my business. But it wasn’t just about running away — it was about running to. To new friends, new knowledge, and new experiences. Oh, and also because I’d heard you could write in your books.

Until then, writing in books had always been forbidden, probably because the books didn’t belong to me. I rented from the school, borrowed from the library. Everything had to be taken care of. In college, though, I got to buy my own textbooks. Some of them were used, already filled with other people’s notes, and some were immaculate. I bought the pristine ones and then, somewhat giddily, filled them with my own marks. Highlights in multiple hues. Notes in the margins, stars, arrows, circles. It wasn’t just because I was an art major and liked to draw in pretty colors. It was because it was a way of interacting with the material, a way to remember it, come to understand it, to acknowledge and process what was important. A way to make it mine. I liked being able to flip through and, at a glance, see what mattered. I could remember that, even if I didn’t remember all the specific details, I put a big green asterisk right next to the paragraph, so I could skim through and — voila! — find what I needed.

I’m the same way with my Bible. Yes, of course it is a holy book, worthy of respect. But don’t be mistaken and think, just because my favorite copy is dog-eared, somewhat crumpled and covered in marks going every which way in the margins, that it shows less-than-proper respect. Au contraire! I can hardly read any book, especially the Good Book, without a pen in my hand anymore. If something touches me, I mark it. If something isn’t clear, I question it. If something reminds me of or refers me to something else, I circle it, draw arrows to connect the sections. If something I read speaks to my current situation, I date it. If someone else teaches me something about it, I put their name next to my notes. By doing all these things, I’m attempting to imprint the ideas into my soul. I’m hoping to become physically involved, not remain aloof and separate. I’m hoping to wrestle with it, as David did. I’m hoping to be consumed by it, changed by it, inspired by it, touched by it. I’m hoping to make it mine.       


tamara said...

I'm a high-lighter and underliner and circler as well. I also add the term stuffer... I stuff papers with notes and lists of verses and what have you throughout my Bible. I can't let go of anything. My dad had/has this fascinating scheme of two different colors and underlining and circling. I don't find it irreverent at all, but rather paying respect to the words that mean so much. Oh, and by the way, I picked the cleanest used book I could find in college as well. ;)

Karen and Gerard said...

I agree it's a good idea to write mark your Bible and recently did a similar post about this myself: