I was nurtured in a Christian tradition that encouraged the daily practice of what was called a “quiet time.” This involved sitting down — preferably early in the morning — reading some of the Bible, reflecting on it, and praying.
All good things, all good things.
For me, the experience of “the quiet time” was wrapped in conflict and confusion for some simple reasons.
You were supposed to get spiritual inspiration from whatever it was you were reading.
And because I was a devotee of those One Year Bibles — where you read a section of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, a selection from either Psalms or Proverbs, and a section of the New Testament every day, so that every year you read through the whole Bible — it was really quite often a stretch to find something spiritual and ‘inspirational,’ especially when I had no idea what I was reading or why, for that matter, it was even in the Bible. Such as the Song of Songs. Or the slaughter of the Canaanites. Or those interminable lists of who does what and who carries what and what seemingly arbitrary thing renders a person unclean for however long a period of time.
Don’t read me wrong: I think there was something of value in all of that.
Even today, when I read the Bible, there is a lot I don’t understand and that doesn’t seem particularly edifying or inspirational or whatever. But it seems valuable to wrestle with what is actually in there, even if the result is less “quiet time” and more, well, disquiet time. The Bible is an ancient text, a demanding text. It is not so easily condensed into uniformly palatable, reassuring thoughts to make your day happier.