Friday, May 18, 2012

A Bond Beyond Ideas

The last two comments on the last post are so timely for my life that I want to highlight them here:

"Jesus's strongest message was to love one another and he did not specify that we all had to believe the same things! So I cut my fellow travelers some slack and try to love them as I love myself." SISU

"When you take a look at the history of the the Laestadian movement and all the different splits, and all the people hurt in the process, I believe the majority of this would have been prevented if they put their focus on loving others, instead of judging someone else's faith and beliefs." EXFALC

Heck yes, I said upon reading that. But I asked myself, as I have many times recently: how have I shown love to my Laestadian relatives? How have I cut them slack? 

As a young woman, I distanced myself from family for very good reasons. (When you are told "you have the devil in you," leaving is self-preservation.) In leaving, however, I lost all the myriad and priceless things that come with the support of an extended family: the advice and stories, the shared adventures, lawnmowers, business contacts, childcare, celebrations, and memories. The hugs. The mementos. (The only tokens of my history I possess are a faded blanket and a baby rattle.)

Was it worth it? 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Fighting Words

Page from a Gutenberg Bible (1454)
This week I stopped at the downtown public library and saw an exhibition of rare religious texts. With permission, I photographed some of the treasures they had on display. The images you see here are presented in the order of the document’s dating, oldest first.

Witness to the Generations

I meditated on these centuries-old relics for quite a while, considering the many human lifetimes that have passed since the words were pressed and penned onto their pages. Even back then, the sources of those words were already ancient. Most of the books were Bibles, their text copied or translated from a succession of painstakingly hand-copied manuscripts whose original sources have been almost entirely lost in antiquity.

Two columns of clean, bold type stared out at me from the page of a Gutenberg Bible, 558 years after the ink went dry. So much history has passed since then, so many generations born into lives that were “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” (Thomas Hobbes, 1651). The black and red of the letters seemed not to have faded at all, unlike the colors of whoever pressed the type onto the page in Mainz, Germany–and his child, and that child, and so on. At least twenty generations of lives blooming and fading: a succession of pink-faced infancy transforming into the gray of old age and death, or worse, a dark red death on the endless battlefields of crusade and conquest.