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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: Schawn.SacredCentering@gmail.com


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: www.SacredCentering.com


Schawn













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6 Comments


Susan Harman
Susan Harman
Aug 24, 2021

Schawn, you have pieced together in a very heartfelt way the connection between the ages. I was moved by that blog and for many of the same reasons you noted. Our shared experience is something to remember and to hold on to in difficult times. Perhaps that is one reason we have been gifted the scriptures...to normalize our experience and increase our courage!


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schawn259
schawn259
Aug 24, 2021
Replying to

Amen. I like the idea of courage. It’s on my short list. Hope and Courage get along well together, I think. Thank you for your comment!

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Schawn Kellogg
Schawn Kellogg
Aug 23, 2021

From Steve Starliper:

Faith to me is encapsulated in the verse below…


Romans 8:26 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. Faith is when I abandon hope or perhaps am just too tired to push ahead in what seems to be an arduous, uphill journey on a road seemingly strewn with rocks, hazards or other obstacles. The time hopelessness seems to permeate every bone in my body. Faith is when my God meets me at that place and carries me forward on her shoulders, allowing me to rest in her luxuriate robes—much as the Prodigal Son did on…

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Schawn Kellogg
Schawn Kellogg
Aug 23, 2021
Replying to

Thank you Steve, your words and this Scripture find me on the perfect day to soak them in. Thank you for this.

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Karry Koppully
Karry Koppully
Aug 23, 2021

I thoroughly enjoyed this blog, and it was very meaningful to me. I have never thought about collecting other people's Bibles, but that is something I think would be interesting. About 2 years after my mom passed away, I helped one of my sisters go through some of my mom's belongings. She has a basement full of boxes of junk (her treasures), and unfortunately that apple didn't fall far from the tree, and I have the same mess in my basement. We were looking for pictures or anything that we thought someone in the family might want. I found an old devotional book of hers. It was something my sisters did not take and probably would have thrown away becau…

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schawn259
schawn259
Aug 23, 2021
Replying to

Your words are so very precious, Karry. Thank you. 35! I love it.

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