My dear young friend,
It would seem to me that you have been taught how to read without having been
taught how to read.
That is not a contradiction. You have been taught the steps of reading a
manuscript, but not the steps of how to read a manuscript. These are two
entirely different things. So when you complain that reading the Scripture is a
boredom to you, it tells me instantly that you are not properly taught.
Any fool can be taught to read. It is a child’s skill. But reading in which
one truly perceives – that is much more difficult. Each work must be
approached in the proper way if you are truly to understand it. For example,
should you desire to cook a boar by recipe, you must know your spices before you
read the recipe.
So it is with the Holy Writ. There are three most necessary conditions to
reading the Scripture.
The first of these is humility. As God has permitted his own words to be
captured for your benefit, you may not survey them with a lordly air. Understand
first that the author is above you; he condescends to you as your Lord. If you
will not approach his words with humility, how shall you learn? Indeed, will not
your pride prevent your wisdom?
The next of these is simplicity. So many seek some hidden meaning in the
Scripture! But is it not the case that the Scriptures are full of plain speech?
Are these not the words intended for the race of man, not the race of angels?
Only the divine author could write so deeply yet so simply. Therefore, we must
read with simplicity, not seeking to upset its meaning but to comprehend it.
Finally, we must read with faith. All things written are for our profit. God is
economical with words. Therefore we must see all things written through the eyes
of faith. If we will not, then the hardened heart of the cynic will soon grow
You read but you do not understand; you listen but you do not hear. Did not
Isaiah the Prophet speak of this? Let go of your desire for hidden meaning and
read with humility, simplicity and faith. Then your understanding will grow, and
your heart will be nourished with true food.
Isaac the alchemist