by Mary Button
You know those songs everybody knows, but everybody knows only about 80% of the lyrics? Maybe you’ve been that person belting out the words to a song, up to that point where you just kind of hum or mumble along with the tune. For me, it happens even with hymns I’ve known all my life.
Once we get to the fourth verse in “Amazing Grace” — “The Lord has promised good to me; his word my hope secures; he will my shield and portion be, as long as life endures.” — well, that’s where I tend to get lost if I don’t have a hymnal in my hands.
It seems to me that it’s often the songs we know the best, and that have the most meaning for us, are also most likely to be the ones that catch us jumping up and down, belting out the words only to find that we don’t have the right words.
That’s what 1 Corinthians 13 is like for me. I know it so well, so intimately, so completely by heart (or so I think), that I’m caught unawares when I stumble over the parts of it that we don’t hear over and over all through wedding season.
Like the noisy gong at the start and the dim mirror at the end, those parts of the chapter have not burrowed quite as deeply into my subconscious.
“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. . .” That part flows easily, but I start tripping over my tongue when we get to the part about prophecy. Yet those are the words that mean the most to me. Sometimes we get so caught up in knowing the words that we lose their meaning.
I invite you to consider the Scripture passages that you know the best. Maybe it’s a passage that you have memorized, words that flow easily off your tongue.
Is it Psalm 23? Or Luke 2, the Magnificat? Take some time to yourself, take some centering breaths, and recite the words feeling each syllable and consonant. Where do you find yourself tripping over words? What are the passages that trouble your recitation? In those moments, I come into a greater realization of my relationship to Scripture. I hear God saying to me, “Beloved, slow down and savor these words.”
One way that I slow down is by coloring. I delight in color. When I’m not sure how I feel, color reminds me. I’m excited to share a coloring page that I made during my chaplaincy internship. It was inspired by the faith stories that a woman shared with me, and includes symbols sacred to her and her journey.
I invite you to meditate on those Scripture passages that resonate most with you and use this coloring page to help you slow down. Immerse yourself in words that heal, words you know well, words you don’t know so well, sit with them, and color.
As you slow down to color, here are some words of prayer:
God of curving lines and bright colors,
Bring us words when they fail. Help us delight in the beauty of your creation. Fill us with healing breath, guide us as we meditate on your word, and bring us the peace that surpasses understanding.
1. What are the Scripture passages that most inform your spiritual life?
2. How do you slow down and hear the word of God?
3. Are there spiritual practices that help you listen to the Holy Spirit?
Mary Button is a liturgical artist and educator. She is also a seminarian at United Lutheran Seminary and a candidate for ordination in the ELCA. You can learn more about her and check out her art at marybutton.com.
This article first appeared in the May 2023 issue of boldcafe.org.