Faith Matters

This Lent, I want to learn to see the world like a poet

Why I’ve chosen Michele Madigan Somerville's Glamourous Life as my Lenten companion.

In the monastic Rule of St. Benedict, Lent is a time for reading. The Rule calls for each monk to receive a book from the monastery library at the beginning of the season and to read it cover to cover. Underscoring the importance of this practice, the Rule also assigns two senior monks to walk the halls, making sure that everyone is doing it.

Lent was also a time for reading in the church I grew up in, marked by a church-wide weekly Lenten Bible study. In spite of the staying power of an early slogan of our denomination—“No creed but Christ, no book but the Bible!”—I don’t remember reading the Bible during Lenten Bible study but rather books about Christian life. I wish I could remember the authors or the titles, but memory fails me. What I do remember is feeling grown up and part of something as I sat talking with others in a circle of folding chairs set up under the basketball hoop in the fellowship hall, a book on everybody’s lap.

A book can be a good companion through Lent, whether we read in a group or alone. A book can be a guide through Lent’s wilderness, a source of courage along the road to Jerusalem, a ladder into the season’s depths and our own.