I was beyond offended. “Excuse me? I can’t even TOUCH it? I may be: What? Unclean? “ I wondered if I was on a hidden camera show. “Is this a joke?” I’m a lover and collector of books. I am compelled to at least run my fingers over the spines. If the slightest bit of my interest is piqued, I explore them like they hold the hidden keys of life and love. But here- I was- with a beautifully bound, gilt edged book right at eye level begging to be explored- confronted with a sign saying: “In honor of our faith, Please do not touch this holy book, you may inadvertently cause it to be unclean.” I couldn’t believe it. I’d gone into this little shop to experience a little multi-cultural shopping- not to be judged.
I glanced up and down the aisle. No one was looking. In my typical strong willed way- after being told (albeit in a nicely worded sign.) not to touch the book, I desperately: wanted to. “They’ll never know. It’s not like it (or I) will burst into flames or anything. Besides- that’s what you get for judging me.” At least I hoped nothing would burst into flames. Before I could raise my hand, I heard the squeak of grocery cart wheels and the voice of a mother telling her toddler “No.” to buying candy and his whine in response. Flames or not, I didn’t want to be caught even thinking about touching that book. I walked as quickly as I could away from the squeak (and the whining) to the front of the store. In the corner of my eye I caught sight of her beautiful deep brown eyes peeping out from under her head covering. Suddenly, I felt very naked. “Is she judging me for my naked head, too?” (Yes, I’d gotten paranoid, guilt does that:P)
I made my way to the counter to pay for my purchase and a smiling face and warm, deep voice met me there. “Do you find what you need today, Ma’am? Can I help you find anything else?” His kindness made me feel like a criminal. (Guilt also does that. It’s ambidextrous.) “No, but thanks.” I mumbled. Hoping my fake smile would hide the truth that: I had just seconds ago wanted to purposefully and willfully defile his merchandise- worse yet- his holy book. Ugh.
My guilt was short lived. By the time I made it to my car, I also felt: self righteous and maybe a bit (ok, a lot) prideful.
“I’m so glad that I serve a touchable God. One who doesn’t require me to be “clean” to love me. I can pick up my bible and read it any time I want to. Anyone can. I don’t have to perform weird rituals or be afraid I’ll wreck it with my un-clean-ness. I can’t even imagine being in such a controlling religion.”
I stuck my keys into the door lock, with a righteous jab. Which, is when I noticed my pink “everyday” bible (forgotten) in the back deck window. It’s cover was curled from the heat of the car. It’s pages were yellowed from the sun. There was a brown stain where I’d left an iced tea sitting on it for too long….and it’s pages were crimped from when it had slid to the floor and feet had found it, before I did.
The irony did not escape me.
It mocked me.
Maybe, I could learn a thing or two (or 10) about reverence from my Halal corner deli.
I wonder- how would my bible study change if I could only study at certain times of the month? Would I long for it more- when I can’t? I wonder how it would change if I chose to ceremonially wash before even touching my Bible? Would I be more apt to remember my sin and Christ’s redemption? Maybe.
Either way- I took that pink bible out of the back window and am treating it with a bit more respect. I think it’s about time.
And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe. 1 Thessalonians 2:13
Lord let your word not just be taken for granted in the back seat of my life- but be at work in me. I love you lord and thank for speaking to me through a Quran in the Halal deli. Amen
Interesting word study on reverence in the Bible-
Interesting resource for understanding the religious observances of the Quran (particularly the no- touching thing that I have such issues with)