Guest post about Bible Journaling from Meg Walsted. “My mama draws pictures in her bible!” My son announced to one of our Dominican priests and a woman I met recently who has started attending Mass at our church. I smiled and thought about hushing him but I realized he said it with pride, he was genuinely inspired and proud of the fact that I draw in my Bible. So in that moment, I decided to own what I was – an adult Catholic who draws in her bible.
I have always been fascinated with the Bible. As a child, it was because I was addicted to office supplies and had a false sense of piety often found in children. Many days I could be seen carrying my bible around a friend’s backyard with a white slip and blue cardigan carefully buttoned over my head exactly like the nuns at my local parish church in the Midwest. We would play act at hermits and occasionally be brutally martyred only to be scolded by my friends Irish Catholic mother when she came home from grocery shopping to find us with slips and cardigans on our head rolling around her front yard. And so ended my career as a Bible carrying Mother Superior in a convent of two.
Years later I had an heirloom copy of a Douay Rheims translation that I brought with me to Alaska when I moved as far north as I could without needing a snow machine as my main mode of transportation. I read that bible the whole way here on the plane. I was wearing my slip properly under my skirt and my cardigan firmly buttoned under my chin. And just as soon as the plane landed and my Bible found a place on the bookshelf of my room right next to my false piety and there it sat for many years until one day when I would meet two women who wanted to help me run my local 40 Days for Life fall campaign.
I met Emilyn and Corrie while perched on stools in the children’s section of Barnes and Noble. We talked about how to best run the campaign and how to reach the Protestant and Catholic parishes without ruffling many feathers on either side of “the line,” you know the one that exists between Protestants who know and love the Bible and Catholics who know of and love the Bible but who have so many other riches in the form of tradition and the sacraments that they neglect the very words God gave us.
Corrie became my very dear friend and my inspiration to remedy my scriptural ignorance. I have had conversations with her on many topics. I have watched with awe while she grabbed her well-worn Bible and thumbed rapidly through its pages to find an obscure verse that perfectly fit the current book we were discussing with my parish book group. I even embarrassed myself to the brink of death by asking if her copy of the Bible in Hebrew (yes she reads and writes Hebrew!!) was the Koran. She has always handled my ignorance with love and gentleness. Her replies have always been overflowing with joy and excitement that I am actually diving into the Word. She is truly my inspiration.
Now my scriptural journey has come full circle to that young girl who loved office supplies and playing secretary. This time there is no false piety it has been replaced by an awe of everything I don’t know and an intense thirst to learn anything and everything about scripture. I credit St. Catherine of Sienna for encouraging me to see the images in the spiritual life and to not be afraid of drawing in books. My spiritual director introduced me to her dialogues and mentioned that he finds her images so rich he ends up drawing in his margins as he reads. I found myself doing exactly that and noticed those drawings helped me remember the text. Like the monks of old, I was meditating on the text as I drew and doodled my way through each page.
Bible journaling is just an extension of this doodling, a habit I have developed to remember and absorb the text. My doodles are far from perfect. Sometimes I don’t even write on a page, sometimes I just slowly hand write a verse that jumps out at me. It’s an artistic way of practicing Lectio Divina. It also helps me to bring the scripture to life in my daily activities. I remember a verse or a picture and try to ponder it as I go about my day. Really it’s been an amazing gift!
So for those of you checking Facebook Bible journaling groups and Pinterest looking at pictures people have decorated their bibles with, and haunting blogs wondering how these people were blessed with so much talent and why can’t you be that amazing? Stop! Just be simple, grab some crayons or colored pencils and some micron pens if you can afford them and start scribbling! Don’t let your fear of messing up stop you from giving Bible Journaling a try. God will reward your small efforts tenfold or more as He always does. And if you doubt the importance of illuminating text grab a bag of popcorn and watch Secret of the Kells and be inspired!
- A Bible, any one will do! I use an ESV Protestant translation version because it fit my budget and I was able to walk into my local bookstore and walk out with it.
- Micron Pens – at the minimum one. They don’t bleed through my bible pages – a plus when writing out text on the front and back of a page!
- Colored pencils. I was able to finally treat myself to some Prismacolors and I love them!
- I also have a wonderful pencil case from Mochithings that holds my pens; three rolls of washi tape; scissors; and a pencil sharpener. It’s small so I can bring my supplies with me to appointments and the park easily.
- Washi tape – I bought a selection from a wonderful vendor on etsy. She has fast shipping and great prices.