Once upon a time, I told God to start sounding more like Cheryl Strayed.
You might have heard of Strayed’s most famous book, Wild, which featured Reese Witherspoon chucking a hiking boot over a cliff. Strayed is also the advice columnist Sugar, originally on The Rumpus and now a podcast from WBUR. I love Strayed’s work the way most normal people like rock bands. I am a groupie.
Anyway, the day I recommended God imitate a woman who changed her last name to ‘Strayed’ on purpose, I was sitting at my desk with an Exacto knife, a rainbow pile of cardstock, and an old Bible.
I had an assignment: cut windows into pages of said Bible and see what I saw on the other side. (By “assignment,” I mean “an idea I decided to do.”)
I was making that old copy of the Bible into an art journal. Thus far, I had covered over the paper cover, made a baby picture of myself pop up from the page of Psalm 139, cut a cross-shaped hidey hole into 1 Kings and glued mustard seeds inside.
Quite honestly, I did not know if the project had God’s stamp of approval. My husband, who is generally more conservative than I am, felt uncomfortable with it. So did a member of my extended family. A friend told me she could affirm me doing it, but would never do it herself.
I got their objections. I really did. I respect the Bible, and think the impulse to keep things sacred has value. But I didn’t put a Bible and an Exacto knife on my desk at the same time because I thought it would be cool, or fun, or interesting. I did it because I was ready to throw that Bible into the trash. That particular copy had been my companion—my hair shirt—during some of my worst years of faith. And I could barely touch it anymore.
Trashing it felt like more of a desecration than an art project. What did I have to lose?
I’m over at The Mudroom today, explaining how channeling Cheryl Strayed helped me see God’s Word with new eyes. Join me there?