I will preface this disjointed post by saying that I don’t expect everyone to follow my train of thought here. It IS rather disjointed, but it flowed in my stream of consciousness this way as I talked with two friends: one in the afternoon with tea around my fire. The other way late into the night with vodka on the Feast of the Annunciation. Which, come to think of it, is a perfect feast for pondering this idea of voice–whose voice, how it is heard, and what it all means.
So, let me begin with Drama of the Gifted Child by Alice Miller. A week or so I was reading along being all open-minded, but on the struggle bus. It’s not a difficult book to read in the sense that the ideas are not difficult–even if I disagree with some of them, I do understand them. It’s not a particularly long book either. But I was just so unnecessarily annoyed with it. For such a popular book I found myself ready to chuck it across the room in exasperation with how poorly it is written. I had a little check-in with myself, asking myself why I was so irritated with it. And it came to me that it is the voice. What voice is this? This was not written nor translated by someone who has English as their primary language. I realized that unaware I was reading it in my head with a Russian or Eastern-European accent. It was not the ideas that annoyed me so much as the clumsy way they were being communicated–which pointed to it much more being a me-problem. Mea Culpa. (I then googled it and confirmed my suspicions.)
This episode of me trying to sort out whose voice something was written reminded me of early in my conversion to Catholicism. I got a Catholic Bible from my BFF. I took up the Deuterocanonical books with enthusiasm. Then I struggled to get through them because I didn’t know the voice. You see, I had read the 66 books of the Protestant canon so many times. Those books felt familiar and comforting, like walking into your grandmother’s house and knowing where she keeps the treats, where the best books are on the shelves, and to immediately get dibs on the coziest chair.
These new books felt awkward to me, not because of the truths they contained, but because I simply didn’t know their voice. I had to sit with them awhile and learn their rhythm. It was like I had to tuck myself next to the Holy Ghost and ask to see things through new eyes. What are you looking at? May my eyes rest there. Now they feel so much more alive and active and beautiful and tender then when I first started reading them. I can find my place amongst their images and listen to God point out the intricacies.Continue reading