Sometimes when reading Psalms and songs in the Bible, I drift over them and don’t really take in the words, or appreciate the poetry, the rhythm and the meaning.
At times like this, it sometimes helps to read the scripture out loud. If I want to invest time in getting to the heart of the piece I like to write the whole thing out.
For big chunks of text, I don’t worry about pretty fonts – connecting with songs by writing transforms them into my own prayer, and fonts sometimes distract me from the exercise. But I do love writing with different colours, and may illustrate the key themes and phrases as I progress through the Psalm.
I also don’t worry about fitting things onto a single page, but allow the Psalm to express itself freely.
If an image springs to mind, I may draw a structure first, and model the Psalm around or within it.
If I really don’t know where to start, or I'm too “empty” to be creative, a simple border can help. I draw the border first, colour the background, then write out the Psalm. I can then meditate on the words as I colour in the detail of the border, and add further illustration if I feel led.
But what about long pieces? I recently wrote out Deborah’s Song from Judges 5. It was rather too long to tackle in a single session, so I divided the page into sections and created background patterns in watercolour pencil. Over several days, I wrote out a verse or two at a time, immersing myself in the story, the praise, and the history of this triumphant song.
I’d encourage you to give it a go, making it a simple or complex as you wish – turning the ancient words into your own prayer, in your own situation.
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