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I’ve been reading my mother’s Bible lately, and it’s been a beautiful experience.
I grew up with this Bible having a permanent place on our coffee table. I always thought of it as a display book — large, leatherbound, with pages of paintings and glossy summaries of some of the best-known stories. She filled it out with what she knew of our family history.
A few years ago, I started filling in more of the family history but didn’t venture much further into the pages. I have my own Bible. Actually, I have a few of them. They’re much smaller and manageable. I freely highlight and write in the creases without any guilt.
Like most people, these days I mostly read the Bible on my phone. I have an app where I read my devotionals, meditate on the verse of the day and add notes from church sermons and Bible study. The app is nice because I can sometimes see the public devotionals my friends are reading and pray along with them on their journeys. I’d like to think they are doing the same for me.
However, when I began studying a certain Scripture recently, I was led to open and use my mother’s Bible. I keep it next to my bed, but it had been a while since I opened it. When I did, I found pictures of people by certain passages. Some of their stories I knew, and I knew my mother had been praying for them. But seeing those pictures let me know how dedicated she was to prayer.
My pictures were in there, too. Mostly childhood portraits with ponytails and school-sanctioned smiles. And a baby picture of my son. It’s comforting to think that even though she died when he was still a toddler, he’s been kept in part because of her prayers.
I’ve also found letters, cards, recipes, job opportunities and board recommendations. They all went in the Bible. At first, I thought some of them were probably used as bookmarks, but the placement of the items, firmly in the center of the pages, didn’t leave any piece of the papers sticking out. These items were placed deliberately.
It’s been comforting to open her Bible each evening, to read my assigned Scripture over myself aloud and to feel her presence. It’s been humbling to see the time and care she put into her prayer life and to take some of her practices into my own prayers.
Mostly, it’s been a blessing to realize that our coffee table Bible was never a display book but was and is a working Bible filled with prayers, joy, tears, sorrow, triumphs and surrender. It is a legacy and a promise.
What a blessing and special privilege it is to know I had a praying mother. God, I thank you.
LaMonique Hamilton is a Wilson resident and former Times reporter and copy editor. She is the national deputy director of communications for Repairers of the Breach and the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival and blogs about arts and culture at iamlamonique.com.