Reading and Writing...
Paul loved to "lead and fight", but what I love about him was that he also liked to "read and write". In an age when it's easiest to just live hard until you eventually expire and retire to your eternal dirt nap, I have great respect for the spirits that draw away from the fray and take the time to scrawl, scribble and script a record that bears witness to their existence, their experiences. Making a mark in the sands of time, so to speak.
A verse struck me several years back that I haven't been able to shake in 2 Timothy 4:13 ...
"When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments."
This is the last chapter of the last book Paul ever wrote in the New Testament. We see in his final will and testament the things that meant the most to him. And one of those things that he couldn't do without coming down the home stretch of his life was his books and notepads. The scrolls represented his reading, the parchments represented his writing. His patterns of poring over books and penning out his percolating thoughts strike me as noble. I have often thought of his passion for these disciplines and found great strength in his resolve.
If you were in the final days of your life, what would you want people to bring you? What would it be difficult to live without? What withdrawals would be gnawing at your soul giving you the shakes? For Paul there was a few people he needed by his side, his favorite coat, some books, a pen and some paper. It seems strange, when you could ask for anything, to be concerned with such seemingly insignificant trifles. But I would submit to you that reading and writing are no such thing. These activities are quintessential to living.
They sharpen your senses. They nurse your wounds. They quicken your creativity. They stir up the gift within you. They refine your thoughts. They bring expression to emotion. They resuscitate dead dreams. They enliven logic. They tutor you through times of neutrality. They breath life into your lungs. They pass along passion to the next generation. They virally spread your DNA. They keep you from narcissism. They bust up hardening arteries of tunnel vision. They lift your eyes to hills and away from your own navel. They stab you with Eden and seduce you with Heaven. They arrest your affections. They demand movement. They comfort your afflictions and afflict your comfort zones.
Scrolls and parchment are still very important. They are important to your children. They are important to your future and your present. They are important to your legacy. They are important to your next breath and the moments that will follow it. These simple items used to record life give you the ability to live on after your death. Your body dies, but your spirit carries on. Paul knew this. He knew this all too well.
And this is why I write. Because it is fearfully important. It says to the rushing river of time, "You can keep moving downstream, but I will trap you in a jar along the way and put you on the shelf in my home. I will not float with you wherever you want to go, but I will bottle you up occasionally and take you where I want you to go. I will carry your rushing current to other places where the rivers do not flow and pour you out on that dry land. I will trap time in a capsule and revisit that place whenever I wish to relive those moments over and over again."
I'm glad Paul took the time to scoop up life along the way trapping it on a parchment and in a scroll so that I could rub the jeanie in that bottle allowing his spirit then to meet my longings now letting them timelessly interact with each other.
For all that is corruptible in the art of living, this craft seems incorruptible. For all that is mortal in this life, something about this discipline seems beautifully immortal.