Suzy’s grandmother lived to be over one hundred years old. Many years ago, we attended her funeral and it stuck with me when the Lutheran minister gave the eulogy that he said he had gone through her Bible and rather than being pure and pristine it was full of notes and prayers. Maybe it struck me because I lived in an era when I was told it was a sin to write anything in the Bible, and to drop it in the dirt was an affront to God. Then again, I was probably being told that because I was young man who tended to dirty any clean clothes I owned and a crayon or pencil in my hands was a destructive weapon on walls and books. Before we moved to Charlotte, Suzy got her grandmother’s Bible along with the Bible’s of her other Aunts and Uncle. And the minister was absolutely correct. It is a treasure trove of prayers, sayings, marking of passages, and provides a window into who the owner was. For example Grandma Danny used to say “Patience is a Virtue,” and sure enough pasted to a page is a cartoon from a 1930’s Look Magazine that depicts a Monk on a donkey cart with a bumper sticker saying “Patience is a virtue.”
I bother you with all this background to give you an opportunity to meditate on your own heritage and family. Most of us are not so lucky as Suzy. We don’t have a Bible full of quotes and notes that can trigger memories and provide insight into a woman who lived in an earthen hut on the prairie at the turn of nineteenth century. But we all have memories and it is worthwhile in these days of going faster and faster to spend a few good quiet moments reflecting on those who shaped us into who we are today. I’ll leave you with the first piece of paper that fell out of Danny’s Bible when I took off the rubber bands that hold it together.
“To know how to grow old is the master work of wisdom, and one of the most difficult chapters in the great art of living.” — Amiel.
A classic. Really enjoyed this, and not just for it’s usual insight into humanity. I’m beginning to see that my kids writing on walls and books comes honestly.
Thanks Jeremy. It is in their genes. W.