When I was little girl, my father believed his family to be potentially unruly, so during Sunday morning services we sat in the balcony where whispers and giggles would not disturb the parishioners below. The problem was neither my brother nor me but my mother, a tiny, quiet woman who still owns a smile that can win you over in the split of a second.
For some reason, during a sermon or a long pastoral prayer, all my brother Bob had to do was glance at my mother, and she would become the helpless victim of an inexplicable onset of giggles. And, of course, Bob would join in. Dad just never knew what would set them off.
Watching them, wriggling and airless as they tried to suppress those loud guffaws, I — fine and law-abiding child that I was — would also soon fall victim.
I’m sure you all know that, once you catch the giggles, stern looks and whispered admonitions only make them worse, and to have our own mother partake in the mirth somehow legitimized the whole process .
I do, however, remember one Sunday morning, when Dad had no worries at all about an outbreak of strangled laughter. That was the Easter Sunday that Bob and I each found a new Bible in our Easter baskets. My Bible was white, with my name in gold in the lower right corner and a leatherette cover that zipped snug to hold the precious words safe inside. Bob’s Bible was also zippered leatherette, and personalized, except his was black. We sat there that Sunday, turning the tissue-thin pages, silently reading Jesus’s words that were printed in red. If you laid your hand on the open Bible and left it there for a few seconds, the page would cling, as if to say, “Stop. Wait. Read.”
I’ve known similar awe and joy one other time in my life, and that was when I was entrusted with not one but three Bibles, two owned by my maternal great grandmothers, and another by my paternal grandmother. As I look through the frail, brittle pages of these Bibles, I feel very close to my grandmothers. Bookmarks, notes, and penciled verses communicate their beliefs, and I understand all over again that God speaks to us in many ways, not only through His words or in joyful mirth, but through a blessed heritage passed down by women of faith.
Happy Mother’s Day!