February 12, 2011

Treasure hunt - Violet Nesdoly

Francine Prose relates this incident in her book Reading Like A Writer:

"When I was a high school junior, our English teacher assigned us to write a term paper on the theme of blindness in Oedipus Rex and King Lear. We were supposed to go through the two tragedies and circle every reference to eyes, light, darkness, and vision, then draw some conclusion on which we would base our final essay.

It all seemed so dull, so mechanical. We felt we were way beyond it. Without this tedious time-consuming exercise, all of us knew that blindness played a starring role in both dramas.

Still, we liked our English teacher, we wanted to please him. And searching for every relevant word turned out to have an enjoyable treasure hunt aspect, a Where's Waldo detective thrill. Once we started looking for eyes, we found them everywhere, glinting at us, winking from every page.

[...] It was fun to trace those patterns and to make those connections. It was like cracking a code that the playwright had embedded in the text, a riddle that existed just for me to decipher. I felt as if I were engaged in some intimate communication with the writer, as if the ghosts of Sophocles and Shakespeare had been waiting patiently all those centuries for a bookish sixteen-year-old to come along and find them" - p. 4-5.
Did you catch that: "...I felt as if I were engaged in some intimate communication with the writer..." Aha! isn't that exactly what happens when we read the Bible and begin to see the patterns, crack the code, understand the schemes of God — how all that ceremony and sacrificing in the Old Testaments culminates in Jesus, how themes like blood and water, bread and sheep, yeast and fire are woven through the Bible in a sort of "wink, wink - get it?" message?

The wonderful thing is that unlike the reading of dead playwrights, when we read the Bible we have the Writer beside us, in us, "opening our eyes" as we read. It's interesting to note Bible passages that describe moments of sight.
  • In the case of Elisha's servant, it came after Elisha's prayer for God to open the servant's eyes to the angelic army that surrounded them - 2 Kings 6:17.
  • From his pit of suffering Job declares, "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You" Job 42:5.
  • Jesus pronounces the blessing of the sight of God to the pure in heart - Matthew 5:8.
  • His words "A little while longer and the world will see Me no more but you will see Me," show that such sight is the possession of believers: faith is necessary - John 14:19.
  • Jesus further taught His disciples that sight and insight would come to them through the Holy Spirit - John 16:5-15.
Let's continue to look for and expect to find treasure in the Bible as we make the psalmist's prayer our prayer: "Open my eyes that I may see wondrous things from Your law" - Psalm 119: 18

© 2011 by Violet Nesdoly

(A version of this post was first published January 8, 2011 on otherfood-devos.com.)


  1. Thanks for posting this! I`ve been unsure how to read my bible lately. I think I`ll go on a treasure hunt! My word: Gentleness.

  2. very cool. The Lord's wink just keeps me coming to Him for more! Well expressed.

  3. Ohhhh... I LOVE that! Is there any among us who doesn't love a treasure hunt?

    It's so much fun to uncover something new... to see with new eyes something He had there all the time.

    Thanks, Violet...so enjoyed your posting!

  4. Very true. We do have the author right there to help us understand. (although I also enjoy reading all those old dead guys, too!)

  5. Bryan Norford10:00 am GMT-7

    Today by faith, one day by sight!
    Wonderful hope.
    Thanks Violet

  6. So true, Violet! I love this line:

    when we read the Bible we have the Writer beside us, in us, "opening our eyes"

    And I love how God tucks the message of His Son in the symbolism of the sacrificial lamb. It's such a delight to read God's story.
    Pam M.


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