The joy of rereading

I’m usually not one to re-watch a movie or reread a book.  Maybe it’s the combination of limited time with seemingly unlimited viewing and reading options that makes repetition feel like a missed opportunity.  But I’ve noticed that’s been changing.

It coincides with Eve and Lily now at an age when they can…ahem…better appreciate the…ahem…high art that graced my earlier years.  Princess Bride.  Groundhog Day.  Seeing through my and their eyes at the same time makes for a new experience.  For example, about 20 minutes into the first Lord of the Rings, Eve said, “Wait a minute, is this just about a bunch of white guys.”  Oh, well, I suppose it kind of is. 

This has been the summer of the girls rereading Harry Potter and me getting refreshed on the increasingly intricate details of that story.

With Abbie and the girls in Kansas this week, during my meals and evenings I’ve been listening to the audio book of Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass.  I nearly completed reading it last year, then got going on something else, and now started back at the beginning.  Hearing her gentle steady voice adds another layer to her stories and wise counsel.  The repetition feels like anything but a missed opportunity – savoring goodness that I previously skimmed or had faded from memory.

Last night I watched Hamilton, now several years after having seen it live.  Although still thrilling, it took on a different tone for me than the Obama-era liberal optimism out of which it was born.      

A friend once told me that a professor of his said that if you only read things once you’re illiterate.  I remember him laughing when he told me this – an audacious claim.

And then there’s the Bible…

As we get into this Parables series this summer we’ll be encountering what is likely familiar material.  But re-reading and reconsidering familiar material holds all kinds of revelations, and joys.  Because we are different, our relationship with that material is different.  We see through different eyes – our own and those now around us. 

Is this how we become literate?  Able to better understand what we had previously simply read or watched? Given the insights Robin Wall Kimmerer recounts from “illiterate” ancestors, perhaps literacy is overrated, wisdom underrated.  

I’m coming to embrace the joy of a re-watch and reread.