Reading as Praying

How reading is helping the Guideposts executive editor to grieve and pray for a lost friend.

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I mentioned how hard it was to pray for the loss of a friend and I was still struggling with it until I thought of that visit we had at the hospital, the last time I would see him. He was reading the novel Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. Only a hundred pages to go.

I couldn’t pray just yet, or fumbled in my prayers, but I could read that book. It’s a doorstopper of a volume, 530 pages, and a lot to be lugging around with me for any free minute I can find. But it’s absolutely absorbing. The author, through some amazing combination of imagination and research, recreates the larger-than-life figures of Tudor England so that I feel that I know Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn and Cardinal Wolsey and especially Thomas Cromwell.

I can’t put it down. I talk about it to my friend, which is a way of talking about him to God. He was so smart and young and funny and full of intellectual curiosity which he managed to convey to his students (he was a professor of English, teaching classes online up to the very end).

The book is a companion in my grief and many pages feel like prayer, partly because the subject is so rich in faith—that era when the Bible was first being translated into English and smuggled in to its first readers.

I read and feel some healing and the closeness of God, even if I can’t always understand God’s ways. It is a way of fulfilling the promise I made to my friend that I would pray for him.

Rick Hamlin is the executive editor at GUIDEPOSTS.

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Tags: Friends,Grief
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