Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Letters from the Past (by Judy)
I recently received photocopies of two letters that stirred my heart. The first is a sweet letter from my grandfather to my father, written in the summer of 1923, when my father was five years old. It changed my memory of an elderly lawyer who enjoyed his comfortable reading chair to one who was playful, and loving, one who sent hugs and kisses in all shapes and sizes to his beloved, and their children.
The second letter was farther back in time – from my great-uncle to his sister, my great-grandmother, written from Cape Fear, NC in the waning months of the American Civil War. He paints a picture of the war that is familiar through historical accounts, photos and records. However, this one is very personal, for it is my family. He offers an explanation for his lack of communication, and then speaks of his shipmates, of an Austrian rifle that he captured from a “Reb,” and his longing for a proper Christmas mince pie, or even the usual salt pork, instead of the fare issued when they couldn’t even build a fire.
Through these precious letters I gained an insight into people from the mists of time, men and women who took on personality, with longings, passions, humor, justifications for actions, and wry observations – people who shared what they were seeing and feeling, both with the recipients of their letters, and with me today.
And that, dear readers, is what the Bible offers. Of course it is built around theology, but above all, it is about people – some who, through reading their stories, become more familiar than neighbors and acquaintances. I never knew until I starting reading, sometimes systematically, sometimes randomly. For decades the Bible gathered dust on my shelf, and now it is my favorite collection of letters and historical commentary, wry observations, justifications, humor, and love – 64 books on one subject- God and His personal relationship with us. As the school year starts, so do Bible studies in churches and communities around the world. I will be joining my BSF comrades in the book of Acts. I pray you may dwell somewhere with those beloved saints in the mist too!