You’d have thought I was reading The Dangerous Book for Boys or the like, the way he kept grinning at me as I read, looking over his shoulder and arching that eyebrow all mischevious at his brother all smirking.
I think this as I read, that maybe this really is the original dangerous book for boys?
The book boys have been reading for the last millennia or two, the one that grabs a body by the shoulders and shakes the drowsy straight stock awake, binds the bloodied up and romances the lonely, that woos the rejected and cuts straight through to where the soul joins the bone.
A bona fide Dangerous book.
It’s the same every day.
Everyday Malakai pleads for that book when we sit down for our daily read alouds. “Read the Bible first —- please?!”
He Bible begs.
I didn’t do anything to make this happen.
I almost think I don’t know how it happened at all. But I do.
I opened up the Living Word and let it wield its glint sharp edge. I opened up straight Scripture, a one year Bible, and let it breathe fire flame. I opened up the Bible for the Boy and he could feel the Danger.
This Word is no safe lion.
“You were reading about Joseph. And the brothers. Remember?” I look for my bookmark and he looks over my shoulder and I can feel the boy hunger for more. We, the Word-God’s poiemas, are our realest real, when eating His Words.
“Yessss… Right here…” I smooth the page out. He breaks into grin anticipation. Littlest Sister, she curls into me, a tendril; Levi and Hope, they sit on the rockers, the young made wise with knitting needles and the books read aloud.
“When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt…”
I begin and I read of ten gaunt brothers caravaning across hot desert and of the knees bending fast before Pharoah’s man and the lips kissing the cracked dirt at the ditched brother’s feet. And these sons of mine break faces in mile smiles at ancient brothers speaking incognito, at supposed strangers and the claim of spies and it reads like mystery, the best, for it breathes real.
And when famine gouges deeper into guts and the brothers’ silhouettes slip again across sands, bow like sheaves before the brother masked Egyptian, Malakai’s eyes blaze with story light. And the child, he’s made of words, breathed into being by words, breath of the Word, and when I read to him the Word, I breathe into him what he’s made of and words pulse the veins and the child feels.
I reach for the bookmark.
“No — more! More!” The room erupts and they plead. I read.
Of the furtive steward with the secret silver chalice, and this is really the story, and Malakai, he writhes.
And I read slow of the stealth crawl of the servant to Benjamin’s bag, and Malakai, he wrings hands, and I watch his face contort. I don’t know if I should keep reading.
And when the house steward pants after those full stomachs bound for Israel, accusations ready on the tongue, Malakai rises on knees, anxiety mounting in the west, and he presses his chest up against my shoulder and his eyes cling to me. Levi grins his knowing.
I read the words of the steward authoritative, “Whoever is found with the chalice will be my slave; the rest of you can go free.” Malakai digs his fingers deep into my arm. He won’t let me go. I can’t look at him when the words on the page form, “And the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack!”
A storm, he splits open over my shoulder and he rains down blackest grief and I am gully washed away.
He heaves with centuries of the brother pain.
He’s crying for Benjamin and brothers and over real boys that have walked off the page and right into his skin.
My son’s crying over the Bible.
When had I forgotten that this Book was the Best Read ever? Why hadn’t I thought of this years sooner, to read the Bible to my children not only during “devotions” but as a read aloud, the Greatest Story ever told, reading several chapters at a time? Till His story was all told in a year?
When had I hardened and the Living Word deadened and when I had last wept over Words?
When had I lost my first Love?
I stroke his cheek with one hand, hold the Word in the other.
His own brother offers pain relief: “Kai— it’s going to be okay,” murmurs Levi, knitting needles stilled. Kai shudders hard.
“You want me to go on?” I whisper it soft.
His yes mangles in wail.
Yes. It’s His story that wounds us and it’s His story alone that heals us and sadness always needs more Story. The fullest comfort comes from the fullest story. And the fullest Story is the Father story and I stay in it becauseit’s knowing the end of the Story that wipes away the tears.
I read it urgent, for I need to get to the hope: Judah entreats the younger Joseph for release of the youngest Benjamin. Malakai’s still woe-wracked on my shoulder. Littlest Sister pats his hand.
And then there it is, what we’ve read pages and pages for, and I read it through his tears falling:
“Joseph could stand it no longer. There were many people in the room, and he said to his attendants, “Out, all of you!” So he was alone with his brothers when he told them who he was.” Kai sniffles, brushes his cheeks.
I read on and the words barb in my throat and tear me a bit open… and the cement inside gives a way and I am alive. I weep with my son. This family, and these brothers, and this love, and our family and these brothers and our love and we are them long ago and they are us now and I am tears.
“Then he broke down and wept. He wept so loudly the Egyptians could hear him…” The Living Word animates in our living room thousands of years later and the story that undammed Joseph has undone us.
“I am Joseph!” he said to his brothers.”
He is Joseph! I feel Kai’s feeble smile before I see it, the way clouds break up and rays feel warm. I laugh through the ache! He is Joseph! Kai is Kai! God is God! We are well!
The Word has done it. The Word holds up a mirror and the Word peels back the mask and the words are who we are. We weep out of recognition. This story is us. This is the read that is deeply revelational. We see us.
When we pick up Scripture, we do not read, a verb; we become, a realization.
Becoming is the most Dangerous of all.
I slip in the bookmark. Kai’s body rests against mine.
Tomorrow we will read more.
Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear…
Related Story: Stay in the Story
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Photos: Reading the Best Read Aloud Ever to our children during daily read alouds — afternoon tea gathering
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