It felt a little strange as I did it. I own several Bibles, one in particular has my name engraved on it in gold. I don’t truly need to borrow one of the church loaner copies.
But since Heather Caliri wrote her de(tale) about her baggage with her Bible, I’ve been thinking about my own. My green bonded leather Bible, the one with my name on it, sits on my bookcase. I don’t open it much. Most of the time, I read the Bible at church, or look up what I need on my computer. It’s taken me a while to understand why that is.
Just today, during that same coffee hour, I was talking to a friend and Biblical scholar about writing in the Bible. “I don’t write in books,” she said. “But I can understand the idea. The Bible is passed from person to person. It’s like reading in community.”
“Yes,” I said. “And when I open my Bible, I’m face to face with my sixteen-year-old self.”
“That wouldn’t be my preference,” she said, smiling.
When I got home, I took my Bible off the bookshelf. On a quick flip-through, I see several colors of highlighter. There is underlining, sometimes at the same places as the highlighting. There are notes written in my girlish handwriting. They say things like: “I want to be like that” and “depression is not too strong for God!” and “our society!” I want to take myself into my arms as I read: "shame can be useful." I am reading in community with my younger self, but I don’t want to. I don’t want my past distracting me as I read this heartbreakingly beautiful, complicated, confusing book. There is already enough to do, and to have done.
My pastor hands me a copy of the New Revised Standard Version. I am not just choosing it because it’s what we read from in our lectionary, but because I like the way it only uses gendered pronouns when expressly needed. I don’t have to look as hard to find myself in those verses which used to reference “mankind.”
I want to walk into the Bible without the glasses of my youth group self. I want to develop a new relationship with scripture, one with less colors and exclamation points. This note-free Bible seems like a good way to begin.
You can order my collaborative Easter art calendar now. It’s a 50 print set of cards with words by me, and art by Alicia Heater of Slightly Stationary. It's a bit of a devotional (but hopefully unlike ones you've used before). It’s beautiful, and meant to draw you into a meaningful Easter season. I’d be honored to have you purchase it, for yourself or for a gift. International shipping is now available.