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The Longsuffering of Old Bibles (NPM ’16-Day 20)

20 Apr

Do you have a collection of old Bibles in your house? We do. Old Bibles in various versions stand neatly on shelves in the basement. They can also be found stacked with other books on my bedside table, buried in trunks, and in my study. I’ve found a slim New Testament in an old purse and tract-size copies of the Gospel of John with a bunch of brochures.

When, some time ago, Diane Lockward’s newsletter contained a poetry prompt with the lament of old wedding dresses, I decided my lament of old things would old Bibles. “The Longsuffering of Old Bibles” is the result.

What should one do to rejuvenate (our Spiritual Journey Thursday word for today) old Bibles? I wish I could send mine to places on earth where people are longing for just one Bible. Trouble is, they usually don’t want them in English but in their mother tongue.

How do you rejuvenate your old Bibles?

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The Longsuffering of Old Bibles

They stand upright, next to each other
the leather NIV beside the family King James
the paperback Message beside the patterned Phillips,
in fellowship and righteous support
version rivalries long forgotten.
On dark nights their longings
rise from the bookshelf, hover
a myrrh lament in the air:
How long, O Lord?
Will they forget us forever?

Sometimes the old Scofield
will whisper memories of past mornings
when light from his pages blended
with light from the sun
and he was written in, marked up, and lined.
I even have the stain of tears,
he says one day. The hardly touched Living
finds this hard to believe
but the Illustrated Children’s smiles
recalling her own rips and scribbles.

Who will read them now? Who will find them?
The wine leather birthday Bible, gold-embossed
in its zippered cover with pockets and pen holders?
The weighty red study Bible
at the bottom of a pile somewhere?
The first Bible—where is it,
what closet, what box?
Where is the burgundy New Testament
gifted in Grade 5, the one with the gold jug
on the cover? Languishing on the shelf
of a thrift store perhaps
or giving tattered testimony to the dump?

From closet floor to attic trunk
with eternal patience, faith, and hope they wait:
We have family members in hotel drawers…
Our pages could still be scattered as packing, wrapping…
One of us once even revived, with his leaves,
the cleaner of latrines in a faraway prison.

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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This is not a new poem, but was written before this poetry month. It recently won an Honorable Mention in the 2016 Christian Poetry Contest sponsored by Utmost Christian Writers. Go HERE to see the list of winners and read more winning poems (they’re good—you’ll love them!).

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Join us each week at Spiritual Journey Thursday

This post is linked to Spiritual Journey Thursday, hosted by Holly Mueller at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Photo: Pixabay.com

 

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4 responses to “The Longsuffering of Old Bibles (NPM ’16-Day 20)

  1. hollymueller

    April 21, 2016 at 10:17 am

    This is lovely. I especially loved the sound of this line: “or giving tattered testimony to the dump?” I could picture each of the Bible versions you paid tribute to and relished the melancholy, reflective tone. The image accompanies the poem perfectly. This post inspires me to get back in the habit of daily Bible reading. I’ve been neglectful of it with all that’s been happening. Our church did a Read the Bible in 90 Days program together. I’d like to do that again!

    Like

     
    • Violet Nesdoly

      April 21, 2016 at 9:20 pm

      Thanks so much, Holly! I can imagine your time of moving has jolted you out of familiar patterns quite thoroughly. Enjoy your time away from steady blogging and SJT. I’m sure you’ll be the richer for it. Your new home, near a lake, sounds wonderful.

      Like

       
  2. Alice Nine

    May 5, 2016 at 5:15 pm

    I happened on your blog… and on this post… The trail that brought me here, I do not remember. I must tell you that my attention was first caught by your title, but then it was forcibly arrested by the lines: “How long, O Lord? Will they forget us forever?” I felt a sadness… Lately I’ve been using digital because it’s less to pack and carry in my travels. But I do prefer my Bible in leather and paper.

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • Violet Nesdoly

      May 5, 2016 at 8:19 pm

      Thanks, Alice! I actually often use a digital Bible too. But all those Bibles on the shelf — I kind of can’t look them in the eye. (I appreciate you reading and leaving a comment!)

      Like

       

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