It was Christmas. And I was six. First grade half done, and I could now read. I was proud, and I loved all my books. I loved my little Sunday School papers. Letters, the alphabet, words. . . . They all came together for me, opening up a whole new world.
Early in the morning light of that Christmas day which we all impatiently waited for, we found a pile of gifts wrapped in brightly colored paper. Simple gifts --- like a roll of white shelf paper and a box of crayons. I thought I could color my way around the world with that much paper! A doll from my namesake aunt who lived so far away. It was dressed in a crocheted dress that my grandmother had made.
But the gift I cherished most of all was given to me by my Mother. It was a Bible. I loved the smell of that new book with the thin, crisp pages. But what made it so special was my name in gold embossed on the front cover. Inside, in her beautiful handwriting, she wrote my name after the words, ‘This Bible belongs to. . . .” and after the words “From” it said, “Her Mother.”
I carried that Bible every.single.Sunday of my childhood. It wasn’t until my Junior year of High School that I got a new Scofield Reference Bible ---- THE Bible to have at that time. But I kept my old Bible. It was special. My first. And it was from my Mom. And she was gone. Forever. It was all I had of her heart. I had no picture or momento that would link me to her. Only my Bible.
I kept that Bible no matter where I went. And sometimes I went far. As far as a wandering heart can take a Rebellious, proud, prodigal daughter. I always knew where it was. I wanted it close -- just in case. I knew my way around it, where to find certain verses that would win an argument, where to find my way back, where to find the cross, where to find grace and forgiveness. Within its covers were memories -- some so sweet, others so haunting. I won “sword drills” with that Bible, memorized verses and chapters, did my Sunday School lessons, and looked up verses in Junior Church. It convicted me, comforted me, and sometimes, confused me. But it laid out a roadmap, always showing me the right way, the old way, the one way that was well traveled, deep with ruts made by those who had gone before. That way always led by the way of the cross.
Now? Maybe 50 Bibles later -- all sizes, colors, versions, paraphrases, --- I still have my Mother’s Bible. It’s stiff now, the binding cracking and brittle (kind of like me) as it gets older. But it never changes. Its words, its message, its power are still all they ever were, and will remain so through eternity’s ages.
Sometimes a Mom doesn’t know the importance of a gift slipped under a tree on a frosty Christmas morning. She didn’t know that a few years later she would be taken suddenly from me. No good-bys, no last words, No hugs --- but she left the greatest gift of all. All I would ever need to get me through the good times, the bad times, up the steepest mountains and down into the deepest of valleys. It brought me safe thus far, and it will bring me safely Home.
Thank you, Mom, for the greatest gift a Mom could give. I am forever grateful!
And if you thank YOUR mama on your blog and link up with Ann VosKamp — you will help support a mothering educational project in Haiti just through your gratitude. The 1000 Moms Project is about 1000 people standing up and thanking their mom publicly (what mom doesn’t want a gift like this for Mother’s Day?) – and we’ll match your honoring of mothers by funding a Maternity/Child Survival Program in Haiti for a whole year. (You can read all about it here)