Getting back to Writing in the Margins, this is the original invitation that prompted my deep dive into Zechariah:
Zechariah 8 shares a vision for a new day and age in Jerusalem when the streets will be restored after a time of exile. Read that vision with Catherine C. Marshall’s quotation in hand. How does her quotation illuminate this text for you? “Annotation covers a broad territory. It has been construed in many ways: as link making, as path building, as commentary, as marking in or around text, as a decentering of authority, as a record of reading and interpretation, or as community memory.”
I read this prompt and read Zechariah 8, but had trouble drawing a connection to Catherine C. Marshall’s quote. I thought to myself: “Maybe I just don’t understand Zechariah 8, let me read all of Zechariah.” Then I felt even more lost.
Please excuse the following moment of self-reflection…
After reading an article about a young couple getting married in Syria and also taking time to learn the Lord’s prayer in Aramaic, I felt like God laid it on my heart to pray for peace in Syria. I found myself drawing a connection between Syria’s current troubles and Israel’s in the book of Zechariah, which I’d been thinking about already as a result of the above prompt, and started praying my way through the book, while also praying a novena to St. Threse of Liseaux.
Now I can finally look back at Catherine C. Marshall’s quote and see how it illuminates if not the text, then the whole experience of writing in the margins; I inadvertently did all of the things she listed: I drew a connection between a challenging Bible passage and a current situation in the world; I found myself envisioning a path forward out of crisis; I wrote commentary and made plenty of marks; my thoughts and prayers probably did in some small way exhibit a decentralization of authority; I made some notes about how I read and interpreted passages, and I preserved some memories of the Syrian crisis from an outsider’s perspective. This was maybe not the response that Lisa Nichols Hickman expected, but at least I did my best to answer the question! And the whole experience stretched me.
One takeaway: The Bible has wisdom for whatever we might encounter in life, and Jesus has been through it all: temptation, betrayal, humiliation, pain, abuse, loneliness, misunderstanding, abandonment, and death. As it relates to the experience of many Syrians, Jesus was a child refugee in Egypt. The great hope we have as Christians is faith in God, who will not leave us under any circumstance and who is with us even in our darkest hour.
A look back….