There are people in my bible.
I'm not talking about Abraham and Sarah and Jesus and Mary Magdalene... though, of course, they are in there too.
I'm talking about the people who appear on my book marks. People who are no longer "with us."
Some of these folks are people I know only slightly, or because I am/ was pastor to someone who loved them. But more of them are people I know/ knew quite well. People I love. Loved.
This morning I opened my bible to mark a passage to read in church*
(*Ordinarily, I read from a very large pulpit bible, but today we had "Messy Church," a child/ young-person/ young-at-heart-person friendly service in the Fellowship Hall, so I used my personal bible. There was this pizza... But I digress).
I opened my bible, and the face of one of the people I love was there, looking off to the right, looking towards a future that was unexpectedly cut short for her, but which includes the odd truth that her face has now taken up permanent residence in my bible.
Hours have passed, and my heart is still sore from the appearance of that dear face. I cannot get used to its appearance, not yet. Not here, tucked into pages bearing the story of the young Samuel waking in the night to hear God's persistent call.
Other people appear in my bible, not because of their face on one of those little cards that is given out at funerals, but by virtue of their handwriting.
I have a slip of paper on which my mother wrote her instructions, some months before mediastinal cancer claimed her (I know! We all had to look it up...):
Plain pine box
No funeral service
She wanted to slip away, as if we wouldn't notice. I've met others-- loved others-- who wanted the same.
We noticed. I notice, every time I open this book, which is so important to me, and which, truth be told, I've staked my life upon. I notice the ones who tried to slip away, and the ones who tried desperately to stay. I notice the ones whose services were attended by a few dozen family members and those whose crowds spilled out into the parking lot. (The young, usually. Not always.)
I notice them all, my beloved dead, carried, held close, tucked into pages where I can read other beloved names.
There are people in my bible. I carry them all with me.