My story, Saying “Goodbye” Comfort From a Well-worn Bible, was published in The Southeast Outlook this week! I am incredibly honored to have my writings placed in such a paper, along with so many other wonderful writers. The editor does an incredible job in putting together a great paper every week. I’m sure there are a lot of factors that go into choosing not just what to put in each edition, but on the editing of articles themselves.
It is quite understandable that, at times, articles will be edited to change the feel and flow the author intended. That happened in this article about my Aunt Ree. So I am publishing it here, exactly how I wrote it and intended for it to sound here on my blog. I do so with no disrespect for those who edited my article for the paper, however, this is how I meant it to read.
In August we said good-bye to my favorite aunt. She lived a long life. She lived a good life. She was a believer in Jesus which makes all the difference, not only in this life, but the one that is to come.
The morning of the funeral my emotions were all over the place as I tried to find words for what I was feeling. How do you say good-bye with an attitude of grace and gratitude for the life she lived well, while longing for the days of old?
My aunt had joined the ranks of many during the latter years of her life. She suffered with Alzheimer’s disease. She had long since moved past the days where she could carry on a conversation, or even remember who we were. The recent stroke she endured left her with limited verbal abilities, but she was still the same woman in the hearts of those who loved her. In our heart and hers, she hadn’t changed a bit. Even though we all know she is now in a far better place, it doesn’t stop us from missing her contagious smile. It’s a journey we all have in common. Saying good bye to those we love.
The memorial service was conducted by her son-in-law who is an ordained minister. He used her Bible, making this service different from any I had ever attended. The things he read to us from her Bible allowed me to not only see my aunt’s personal relationship with Jesus, but it felt like an invitation to follow her in her quest to know Him on a deeper level. Her Bible was like a journal sprinkled with snippets of her life.
As I fondly held her Bible in my hands, I imagined how she had done the same day after day. The front and back inside covers were full…every single blank spot on those pages were writings of her life; things and people she was praying for. She dated each event and prayer. There were records of the deaths of three of her five children, and prayers for them before they passed. She noted graduations of her grands and events that surrounded the lives of those she loved. She recorded events related to her job and the selling of her home, but she didn’t just write the event, she prayed for God’s will to be done. And then she praised Him no matter the outcome.
I was mesmerized as I read. Her story interwoven with His. Her faith. Her relationship was so open and so personal, just like she was talking with a friend.
Every entry was dated and the time recorded. Sometimes she even included the weather and current temperature! To see her conversing with her Heavenly Father in such an every-day manner touched and inspired me. I want that kind of familiar relationship with my Father just like my aunt had found.
Don’t get me wrong, I often record the date when a scripture speaks to me in a special way. I underline and highlight meaningful passages that I read during difficult times. But I don’t have the dialogue that easily flowed from my aunt’s pen onto the pages of her well-worn Bible.
As I continued to thumb through this testament of her life and relationship with God, there were the same notations on so many pages. She would turn some scriptures into prayers, and praise God for the blessings she read about too. A few times she even wrote down such mundane things as errands and chores, as if God cared about the every-day events of her everyday life.
That’s what got to me the most. It’s not like I didn’t know or believe that He does care for us in that fashion, but I have never approached it the way my aunt did.
And then I began to wonder, what if, when I am called Home, someone finds my Bible, what would they see on the pages? If the truth be told, I have more Bibles than I can count without actually looking for them. I have many different versions. Would someone be able to tell which Bible I used the most? And if they did, would they find my relationship with the Lord as endearing as the one my aunt had?
I get that writing in one’s Bible isn’t the measure of a relationship, nor does the lack of writing in a Bible mean there was no relationship at all. But what a gift to give to those I leave behind when I leave this world.
What comfort. What assurance. The gift of knowing the relationship between someone we love and our Father above is the greatest gift of all.
The gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ.