This morning in church we did something we rarely do - we used the hymn book. Usually, the hymns are printed in the bulletin. However, our pastor decided to change the opening hymn, and even jokingly said that we'd need to dust off the hymnbook in front of us and open to hymn #89. And as I opened the hymnbook, I saw a wonderful inscription:
25 Feb. 1979
To John -
With all m y thanks for your
support during our years together at
May God's blessings go with you!
For some reason, that touched me. Granted, having the salutation of the inscription the same as my name drew me in. But more than that, it spoke to me of things that we pass on, particularly something like books, or in this case, a hymnbook.
I have a hymnbook that once belonged to my grandmother. It's beat up, with the binding torn in spots, and the pages are yellowed with time. But it was hers, and it was that same hymnbook that my mother used to sing to me when I was a child. That simple, plain hymnbook holds great value to me, just as that hymnbook that I sang from today held value for another person named John.
Things that are passed down to us often mean more than something we get for ourselves, like a new smart phone or new shoes. We might have a coat that belonged to a grandparent, or a casserole dish that was used by our moms to make our favorite comfort food. In addition to that hymnbook, we have cameras that belonged to my grandparents and my dad. The cameras indicate a shared passion between them and both my wife and I - all of us touched by the interest to capture images as we see them and respond to them.
I'm sure that for this John, way back in 1979, this brand new hymnal and its inscription meant something to him. Just as something that we hold dear from a parent, grandparent, or dear friend means something to us.