I have a *small* collection of ‘second hand’ (read REALLLLLY old) books, and even one ‘first edition’ which I am super duper proud of. I feel it could almost gain me entry into the much acclaimed ‘book nerd’ club. I know it exists, I’m just waiting eagerly for my invitation…
I find it comforting to hold my second hand books. I open them, and smell them, and just sit and look at them. One is from 1866, and it is almost falling apart. It is a beautiful old bible, with a lock on the outside. The lock is broken, so the bible always opens. Which is how I figure you’d probably want a bible to be anyway….
The first name written on the first page of the book is Charlotte Jane Blake.
The inscription reads “Presented by her mother on her birthday. May 31, 1866”
The bible went from Charlotte to Shirley Blake, and by the script, it would appear Shirley was a child when she wrote her name in the book.
There are a few other names, and different dates, following Charlotte and Shirley. My name is the last name listed. It’s dated 2005. I haven’t passed it on yet, so that’s the last entry. I also know exactly who I am going to be giving the book to.
The book holds so many questions for me, and such mystery…. and yet a ridiculous amount of comfort and solace also.
Who was Charlotte, and how old was she on the birthday her mum gave her the bible?
Did she actually ask for a bible, and what did she really believe?
Did she marry, and did they read the bible together as a family in front of the fireplace? Maybe that’s just too idealistic, but I love the imagery, and I figure it’s my book, so I’m allowed to imagine it any way I choose.
When she struggled with something, did she thumb through to a favourite verse, and did her soul find rest?
When she passed it on to Shirley, did Shirley find a richness in it’s pages?
Did it ever just sit on the shelf unopened for years?
Was anyone judged/condemned for their belief in the words of that book?
There are a couple of pages with stains on them. Some are tear stains. I find incredible comfort in them. Knowing that someone cried over those pages is powerful. Someone loved someone else enough to shed tears for them. Wow. Someone was desperately weeping over a broken relationship, a dying child, a lost parent… Or were they happy tears?
There are a couple of markings in the book. I don’t know what they are. Some look like dog-eared pages. Maybe Charlotte tried to ‘save her place’ a few times. Maybe a child bent a page by accident. Maybe when the bible moved house a few times it got a bit beaten up. There’s a story in every page, in every crease, in every tear stain, in every word…
I love knowing that countless people have held that book before me.
Considered it precious.
Lived by it. Sometimes at incredible personal cost.
I love that there’s a LEGACY.
There’s ALWAYS a legacy….
If you choose to see it.
And that’s enough to build a life upon.