When I was a small child my parents read to me.
Slowly I was able to read a word and associate it with an object and vice verse.
When I started first grade I began to read books like "Dick and Jane".
Has I progressed through school grades and reading became more intricate,I came to a point as a senior in high school that I was not only able to read Shakespeare but understand large parts of it.
I read allot and in many cases have no problems with what I am reading unless it is something I consider "above my head".
Several days ago Fr.Peter and I were talking about reading formal prayers and the teachings of the mothers and fathers of the church.
I have several Orthodox prayer books and must admit I don't read them very often because they just don't seem to make a whole lot of sense,lots of words saying lots of things. I tend mentally to shut down and lose my attention span,wandering off to more worldly subjects.
Today I was thinking about reading and Shakespeare and remembered how easy it seemed to me to comprehend while my friend sitting next to me would shake his head and say "I don't get this stuff,do you?"
I think I have come to the point of understanding that the prayers,sayings and writings were done by very holy people whose spiritual level is way beyond my own.
When I was a first grader If you had put a book of Shakespeare prose in front of me I would have looked for pictures and tossed the book aside because it was above my level.
So maybe that's where I am with spiritual readings.Right now I need plain and simple to comprehend and advance toward the more complicated.
Now that doesn't mean I will not continue to tackle these holy peoples words but maybe it means I can only take small amounts and work on them.
Instead of taking a whole prayer maybe I need to start with a sentence or paragraph until I'm not stumbling over the words and losing my attention and patience.
Religion is very overwhelming,if you allow it to be.
But no person can ever know all biblical things.There are Christian and Jewish scholars who spend their whole lives studying bits and pieces.
So I guess the goal is take it in small bites and try not to get side tract.
The devil always sets up stumbling blocks and clouds the mind with negative reactions to things,wanting,no encouraging us to give up.
Jesus says "Love the Lord your God will all your mind heart and soul and love your brother as yourself". This is what all the laws and all the Prophets hing on.
In other words start out by loving God,your neighbors and your self and the rest is more enlightenment to help you full fill those obligations.
Saints and holy people are not only the ones who hit the mark but they are also the ones who help us to measure our own growth.
We may never be perfect but their examples and teachings help give us direction to grow toward.