Eat Slowly and Enjoy
I’ve always been a bit of a fast eater, trained so, in part, by my experience in school. Lunch breaks were usually scheduled for 30-40 minutes throughout middle and high school. However, by the time I was dismissed from class, zombie-walked in the masses to lunch, stood in a slow line, got food, found my friends, and sat down, I had more like 20 minutes. Add a pressure to finish eating with time to spare for playing dominoes, and it was more like 10 minutes. That’s 10 minutes to ingest food for the sole purpose of staying alive. Lunch was not to be enjoyed, but consumed, and quickly. I wouldn’t say that process describes my average meal today, but I am still a relatively fast and to-the-point eater. Or should I say consumer. Going out on a limb here and assuming this isn’t just me, we consume many things too quickly other than food. We binge Netflix, skipping the intros and auto-continuing through the credits. We receive our news in 140 characters. We scroll quickly on social media, liking just about everything without a second thought. We cram our vacations full of things to do and see. And we schedule people into time slots to maximize our efficient schedules. We certainly don’t have much time to enjoy our food. In most of our consumption, whether food, Netflix, media, or people, we quickly ingest, collect, and take what we want or need without taking the time to appreciate the experience. Who stops to smell the roses anymore?
Our relationship with our Bible is likely not much different. Perhaps you take the time to practice a more time-consuming, intentional practice like lectio divina when you read Scripture, but in my experience, most Scripture is usually consumed like our food, vacations, social media, and Netflix: hastily, intentionally, pointedly, and unenjoyably. Ever try to read the Bible in one year, or know someone who did? Make it through Leviticus, or did you stall out? Would you describe your time spent with Leviticus as plowing through? What about the genealogy in the first nine chapters of 1 Chronicles? Skip over that bit like a bunch of overcooked broccoli? Did you eat it quickly so you could get to the dessert? We come to Scripture and eat it quickly, rushed, like a chore instead of a privilege.
Yes, Ezekiel had a vision in which God told him to “eat this scroll,” but when he ate it filled his stomach and “was as sweet as honey” (Ezek 3:3). He enjoyed it, savored it, absorbed it. We need to slow down when we eat and chew our Scriptures. Even before we take it in, we should appreciate Scripture. We post pictures of our food on Instagram as a way of appreciating the presentation of food, so why wouldn’t we take the time to appreciate our Scriptures before we begin to read?
A suggestion: get or find access to a Bible that you enjoy looking at. Study Bibles are effective tools with each page packed full of resources, notes, and cross references. They are the MREs of Scripture; they have everything you need, but they aren’t exactly a three-star Michelin meal. Consider the St. John’s Bible,  of which I am slowly collecting volumes. Hand written and illuminated by the St. John’s Abbey and University, this stunning Bible is inspiring to look at and an experience to read. Reading this version of the Bible slows me down, draws me in, and transforms how I relate with Scripture. Yes, sometimes you are in a hurry and just want to fit some Scripture reading into your day. Fine, I get it. But don’t always rush your reading of Scripture. Sit down with a beautiful and inspiring edition of Scripture, and slowly take in the experience. Let it wash over you. This is the word of God; perhaps we could at least not always unenjoyably rush the experience of reading. Eat the book, but eat slowly, savor it, and enjoy. Bon appetit!