Recorded in the Bible

In uncertain times, we need an anchor, something unchangeable that we can cling to. It helps to have reminders that people have gone through hard times before now, and survived. One of my nieces, for example, is interested in learning about family history. In trying to answer her questions, I turned to the place where our family records are kept–my mother’s Bible. In Mom’s Bible, there are records of birth and death dates for family members going back several generations and continuing through the births of her children and grandchildren and, sadly, the deaths of some.

These records are just bare facts, but behind each fact is a person, a living individual with dreams, hopes, triumphs and disappointments. Between the date of birth and the date of death, this boy or girl, man or woman, lived through a certain time in history.

I know, for example, that some ancestors came from Georgia to Indian Territory in the 1800s; some fought in the Civil War and at least one was in the American Revolution.

For every recorded date, there is a story.  I know that my great-grandfather played the fiddle and his wife made certain he never played at dances. I know that my grandmother loved to quilt. When my grandmother’s aunt, along with  her mother and friends, gathered at her house to put together those bright pieces of material with tiny hand-sewn stitches, the children, Mom included, liked to hide under the quilt and listen to the women visit. It is easy to picture those long ago ladies gathered in the living room at Etta during the winter months, a wood fire roaring in the fireplace, catching up on neighborhood news. That love of quilting has been bequeathed to many of my grandmother’s descendants but not, I’m afraid, to this descendant.

It seems appropriate that the records of my family are in Mom’s Bible because the Bible is a record too, of births and deaths. The Bible tells where we came from and, ultimately, where we are going. It is a plan for successful living, as well as a warning about what happens to those who stray from that planned path given to us by God.

Continuity, belonging, a sense of who I am–these are what my mother’s records provide. No matter where on earth I might travel, I know where I came from. Through perilous times, challenges, uncertainty, I have a reminder that this, too, shall pass. I know because it’s all recorded, in my mother’s Bible.

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