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Snippets provide a walk down memory lane
I suspect that just about everyone out there in readership-land has a special place where snippets go. You know, those little bits of information that you don’t want to forget or at least lose sight of.
My special place to store these treasures is in my Good News Bible; the one that I have had since about 10th grade. I’m not really sure why I decided – years ago – to use my Bible as a placeholder of important memories, but recently I realized it was time to go through those items and remember again why they were so important.
I brought my Bible out to the kitchen table and started turning the pages, one by one, and setting the clippings in little stacks. It was quite enlightening. My Bible, which measured one and a half inches thick, had two and three quarter inches worth of paper tucked inside it! The eclectic contents included some of the following:
Thirty-five obituaries. It was sad looking through these. Some were of family members, some neighbors and fellow church members, some good friends, some acquaintances (obituaries of classmates are stored in my 1972 CHS Yearbook). It surprised me that there were that many people I knew who had passed away. When they are tallied in a pile like that, it is quite sobering. I felt compelled to honor each one by reading through the obituary and reflecting the impact that those folks had on my life. Yes, sobering.
On a brighter note, I began stacking up another pile that included birth announcements, engagements, weddings, college acceptances and other successes of people I knew. Life does go on and this collection reminded me of that truism.
I also had a number of religious and inspirational bookmarks, cards and poems scattered throughout my Bible. Quotes such as: “Trust in the Lord and do good,” a bookmark with The Beatitudes on it, one with The Ten Commandments and one with the Books of the Bible. A bookmark with a guardian angel on it, various Bible quotes and a number of “Safely Home” prayers. There was even a homemade bookmark with an unidentifiable pressed wildflower in it which may or may not have some deeper meaning that I have since forgotten.
On a secular note, I had accumulated a collection of 33 Dear Abby articles with headlines such as “Try to seize the day, make it your own,” “Rules for living straight and narrow” and “Thoughtful, practical gifts for seniors.” There were other words of wisdom collected throughout the years and tenderly placed inside this Bible for reference, presumably to help me navigate life’s sometime tricky and painful journey. I had cut out articles written by Maya Angelou, Erma Bombeck, Dave Barry, Leo Buscaglia, Richard Lederer, a couple of Monitor editorials and a couple of articles by our own local, Mark Ciocca. There was an article from the Monitor on the earthquake of 2010, a note from my Mom dated 1994, a favorite Emily Dickenson poem from a favorite aunt, a poem I wrote for that same favorite aunt, the poem “When I Shall Wear Purple”, and a picture of a Barbie doll (???).
Oddly, also included in the pages was a listing of the gifts that I purchased one Christmas (1994?). This was fun to see as it included peach-colored lip liner for my oldest daughter, the Billy Ray Cyrus CD “Achy Breaky Heart” for my youngest daughter, and something called “Swampman” for my son.
Overall, the general overview of the total collection was more religious than not. Once upon a time I would say that I was “religious.” Now I would say that I am spiritual, but not religious.
I struggle; I recognize all too well my shortcomings. I may not hurt more than when I was younger, but I think I hurt deeper. I have some life scars that I didn’t have years ago. I have replaced my youthful optimism with a somewhat darker version. I used to believe that if I was a good person that I would always do good and even amazing things with my life.
I understand now that even though I am a good person, I do not always make the best, or right, decisions.
What I take away from this exercise in sorting and reviewing my Bible treasures is that we all need a little help now and again in traveling this road we call life.
We can find that help in many places and in many ways. We can cut out advice and encouragement from newspapers, we can get help from friends, family, professional people and even complete strangers. We can read the Bible and other inspirational books or listen to motivational speakers or practice yoga or Zen or stand on our heads, if that works. One thing is sure, however; we all need something and we all need someone in our journey, otherwise it is just too heavy to bear.
But beyond all that, we need to love foremost and we need to forgive and we need to allow ourselves to laugh and to cry; we need to feel because the worse thing ever is not to feel at all.