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A Timeless Message

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

~Hebrews 11:1, American Bible Society, 1848 edition

I collect old Bibles. Some from my family and others from antique stores or old book stores. I find comfort in connecting with the souls who once cherished them. This week, feeling disheartened by the national COVID trends and the gut wrenching images from Afghanistan, I reached for an 1848 Bible that belonged to “Miriam T. Burtis.” The inscription inside the front cover reads, “A gift from Libby, 1865.”

1865. The year of the American Civil War. The Bible I held in my hands comforted Miriam during a time of indescribable loss.

I turned to Hebrews 11:1, one of my favorite verses. A small note fell from between the fragile pages. It read simply, “11 Heb.” in faded pencil. The corner of the yellowed page of the eleventh chapter of Hebrews had also been folded down, the only page in the Bible that appeared to be marked in that way.

The familiar passage settled me, as it always does. But the real power in the moment was the connection I felt to a woman who lived during the Civil War, a fellow seeker who experienced the same pain, sorrow, confusion, fear, dread, and helplessness that I feel. The same emotions that all humans feel, regardless of the century in which we live. She had marked this verse, to return to. Just as I return to it.

Sacred text is alive. It transcends time and exists to meet each of us where we are at the moment. The reader and the message come together in a kind of dynamic experience so that a story about a spiritual experience two millennia ago reaches out to me with as much meaning as it did for Miriam 156 years ago and as it did for the early Christians.

All seekers can count on the fact that the human condition is universal. When two seekers gather, even in spirit, something happens that helps us stay the course.

Do you have a Bible that was once cherished by another? Maybe a large Family Bible with birth and death records, hair locks, love notes or newspaper clippings? I invite you to take some quiet time and explore Bibles that you find. What pieces of history are pressed between its pages? What do you learn about the life and faith of one who has come before you?

I enjoy your correspondence so much. Please message me about what you discover:

If you like, I will post your stories and images, or excerpts as you wish.

(Or post it here if you can manage it. My apologies that the comments section is a challenge, I am not sure why it won’t work smoothly. I hope it will be fixed soon by WIX).

If you or someone you know would find 1:1 conversation helpful, please see:


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