I always subscribed to the notion that books ought to be treated with near reverence.
“Careful not to bend a page my dear.”
“Do not set that cup of milk on the cover, it will make a ring my dear.”
“The jacket stays on to protect it my dear.”
Books, I believed, must be guarded from harm. A certain hierarchy existed. The Bible in any size, edition or cover held the position of literally sacred and most carefully guarded. Next in order of importance were: the dictionary, encyclopedias and other reference books along with library books and school textbooks.
Beneath them came hardcover books then paperbacks (which when using utmost caution to avoid dropping them directly into the ocean, could be brought to the beach.)
Yes, books required care or so I thought until one particular day in church when the preacher asked each member of our congregation to get out a pen.
“For this project,” he said, “the mini-golf pencils will not do.”
He instructed us to open our Bibles to a specific passage in the New Testament.
“We’re going to find a path to salvation,” he said.
Hesitant though I was, he suggested we created a trail of verses much like a treasure hunt. He read the passage and instructed everyone to write the next address (chapter and verse) in the margin. We proceeded to find that address, read the next passage, write a new address on that page and so on until we reached an end.
There it was—blue ink in the most revered book. The exercise changed my perspective on books and on faith.
I think I had always confused protection with abuse.
“Let’s not throw the book during an argument my dear.”
“Let’s not burn the books my dear.”
“Your books are not to be strapped to your feet and used to ski down the steps to the basement, my dear.”
Books are meant to be read, their pages marked with faint ovals from fingers turning one after the other. Dog ears, highlights or underlines should delineate words worth remembering and paths worth pursuing.
No matter the religion, faith is a journey from one chapter and verse to another.