Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Bible Story

All during my teenage years, my father would have two weeks off during the summer and we would head for Pittsburgh where my parents were from and all of my relatives lived. My Mother and father settled here in Jacksonville after the war and I was born and have remained here since 1949. 
The Bible Looked Just Like This, Except It Was Red.
My Grandmother, Izella White Hare, had this huge 12" x 15" x 6" leather bound bible which had a heavy silver closer on it that was about 4 inches wide and 6” long. The hinge was on the bottom and the closure came up and snapped shut to keep the book closed. The cover of the bible had a raised design on it with silver lettering and was so heavy that I as a kid had trouble picking it up. In the middle of the bible were all of the sheets for family information along with an elaborately printed "Temperance Pledge", It also had huge colored pictures with gold accents of the great bible stories. These pages were “suitable for framing”, and would have been a nice addition to any church office, hall or narthex. My grandmother may or may not have been joking about the Temperance Pledge, I was never really sure. She tried her best every time we went to visit to get me to sign the Temperance Pledge in this bible. I always had to wiggle my way out of the subject every time it came up. “Isn’t it time for me to get a bath and go to bed, Grandma?” or “Hey, Grandma, didn’t you say you wanted your windows washed”. As I got older, I would ask her if she had any beer in her fridge offering to split one with her. She never thought that was very funny.
The Infamous Temperance Pledge-Notice No One Else Signed it.
Through the years, the bible became so worn that every time you picked it up, it left a substantial portion of the cover behind. If you are familiar with Peanuts character named "Pig Pen" who leaves a cloud of dust everywhere he goes...well that's what the bible did. I checked with the book bindery downtown about having the huge book rebound, but the cost was prohibitive.

It Was A Beautiful Bible - I Especially Love  the Gold Wedding Bells.
My mother tried her best to get me to take the bible home. I would politely tell her, no thanks. My brother and his wife didn't want it either, so my mother ripped out the middle pages where the family births, deaths and marriages were written and decided to donate it to the youth group at the church for their annual rummage sale. Someone bought the bible and took it home only to decide that this bible with its beautiful gold accented pictures must have been given away by mistake. They tracked my mother down through the church office and drove over to her house and knocked on her door to return it. They had the tell-tale red dust on their clothes and the bible continued to disintegrate as they spoke on the porch. Well, what else could my mother do but take the musty, mildewed bible back and say, thank you. She called me and said, "Great...now what do I do with it." She decided to put it out for the garbage man to take, but made the mistake of putting the bible on top of the garbage can instead of in the garbage can (I guess out of respect for the bible???). When the garbage man saw it he proceeded to walk up to her door and knock on it at 5:30am in the morning to return the bible thinking surely someone in her family would want the heirloom. My mother just looked at him and said thanks. Now the bible was in worse shape having sat out in the street all night.

“There are no specific scriptural instructions on how to dispose of an old Bible. While God's Word is holy and to be honored, there's nothing sacred or hallowed in the physical materials: the paper, parchment, leather, and ink”.

By now, this bible had become a running joke and we marveled at its ability to find its way home each time it was thrown away. My mother was determined to get rid of this thing and I volunteered to take it finally. I told her she didn't have to worry anymore about the bible. Well, I couldn't get rid of it either until I took it to work where you could always find a home (for profit or not) for an unwanted object. The people I had the pleasure of working with were for the most part wonderful people. Not only would the majority of them eat any and everything considered food, but someone would always buy whatever you had on hand to sell. I liked this about them.

I didn’t want to sell the Bible, but I did want to find it a home and someone that wasn’t particular about dust and disintegrating leather and maybe might even read it.  So, as it goes, I found a friend who made beautiful greeting cards with a religious theme. She was part of a group of women at her church that made hand crafted greeting cards that were sent to parishioners, priests and the sick. Her cards were wonderful little works of love and art that had beautiful collages on the fronts of the cards and selected bible passages and prayers. I’m thinking that my bible would be a source of art and scripture for this card making group and my friend whole heartedly agreed. I handed the bible over to her and for many years I thought it was being used for that purpose.

Years later, I ran into my friend one evening in a restaurant and we chatted for awhile about retirement and old friends at work we wondered about. Out of curiosity, I asked her about the bible and had it helped out in her group’s the card making.  Her answer was no. They were afraid or thought it was too beautiful to cut up.

I’m left now still feeling just a little guilty mixed with not a lot of not guilty, just like mother.  I really have no regrets. I took the burden off of my mother and for that she was grateful. However, I am ever mindful of the power of lightning.


I’m thinking it’s not IF a lightning bolt will hit me, but rather WHEN will it hit me. According to an article in the Orlando Sun Sentinel) Florida is the lightning capital of the United States second only to Rwanda, I take cover or just get wet rather than use an umbrella during lightning storms. I definitely have given up golf.

Poor Cow Hit By Lightning Who Lived Long Enough For A Picture.
If  It  Can Happen To Her, It Can Happen To Me