Book Time . . . with Jesus

On World Book Day, March 7th, readers salute books. And . . . sometimes, make them.

by Christine Sine

by Laurie Klein


There is a room in the library—kept dim—where our eyes must adjust to shadows. Picture a line of people waiting in raincoats. Students with backpacks. Yours truly, an umbrella hooked over my arm.

One by one, each visitor bows over the see-through case. It holds a masterpiece: one of the gospels written by hand, part of the matchless, medieval Book of Kells.

Imagine monks hunching over the vellum: pin-pricking guidelines, for text; lettering verses with iron-gall ink; illuminating pages with costly pigments and gold leaf—still vibrant centuries later. 

Bend over the book with me. Ahh. Your doubletake, my indrawn breath lest I fog the glass. Let everything else fall away except . . . 

. . . spiraling vines,

. . . lavish letterforms,

. . . interlaced borders of Celtic knotwork.

Were we allowed to leaf through these pages, we’d find whimsical creatures and plants, paintings of prophets and angels. We’d find the words of Luke, hand lettered in Latin.

Somewhere in this gospel the Lord’s Prayer appears. I wish we could turn there.

A sigh, then a cough, behind us. Time to cede our place.


That’s how it felt in Ireland when I saw the Book of Kells. As if poet Laura Reece Hogan had read my soul when composing that line.

O to hold onto the wonder! 

Once home, I resolved to create a small devotional book for myself. It would brim with beauty and truth: a one-of-a-kind, personalized Book of Hours. Psalm 119:164 says, “Seven times a day will I praise thee, O God.” Long ago, monasteries and abbeys adopted this rhythm for ongoing worship. Back then, only the wealthy could afford bound pages filled with prayers, paintings, and scripture to aid contemplation. Historically, the books centered on the Virgin Mary and the saints. A protestant, I would focus on the Trinity.

Why not make a modern version? 

Turns out the chosen hours go by Latin names, and each reflects a different mood and purpose. Over the next weeks, I noted my daily patterns at dawn, mid-morning, noon, midafternoon, twilight and nighttime. Even insomnia’s wee hours. 

Could I find a fitting quotation for each, one I’d gladly revisit often? What about illustrations? 


A book makes time travelers of us. Peer over the shoulder of Jesus amidst an angry mob as he stoops to write in the dust. 

What do you think he wrote?

Hear his voice through David’s prophetic psalm: “Here I am. I have come—it is written in the scroll—to do your will, O God.” 

Will we?

Picture the ravaged skin of the rabbi’s palms, forever inscribed with your name. 

Where else can you read these embodied letters of love?

Every believer is also a living epistle. You. Me. Lifelong learners, each of us becoming a prayer.

When Jesus taught his friends the Lord’s Prayer, Luke proclaims words spoken into the air that span centuries.

When Jesus prayed in Gethsemane, he became the Lord’s prayer. Sweat and tears and flesh embodied “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” 

That script for prayer, freely shared in conversation with friends, was bodily published, at Calvary.

Since that time, whenever believers talk about God, the prophet Malachi says our words are recorded in a sacred “scroll of remembrance.” Think of it.

Perhaps a seraphic scribe is writing now as your thoughts interact with mine.

So, what if you make your own Book of Hours, as I once did: fill it with gathered pictures and prayers to foster reflection and devotion? Copy favorite quotes. Add a song. Collage illustrations from magazine photos or generate images from scratch. Experiment with handmade papers from an art or hobby store. Use the canonical names for the hours, or invent your own. 

Arrange your entries in a blank book or bind the pages yourself and add decorative covers. Set your Book of Hours in a prominent place, and turn a page when you walk by.

Book time . . . with Jesus, both in the making and, afterward, meditating on a chosen page at a specific hour, or as you feel led.

Today, in the Trinity College library, another page in the Book of Kells is turned. 

Lord Jesus, to whom else should we turn? You have the words of life. Turn and attune our hearts to your ways. Compose our souls. Bind up our wounds. Dearest Author and Finisher of our faith, make our lives an ongoing prayer. Amen.

Experience the Digitized Book of Kells here:

Read about the Book of Hours here:

Photo, Eugenio-Mazzon for Unsplash. 

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