Our store is in the middle of our annual Summer Sale. Part of the sale includes what we refer to as Porch Books. They are books that were on sale last summer and then throughout the rest of the year, and still have not sold. We put them in display boxes on our front porch (well, it is hardly a porch, but it is outside the front door).
Another part of this story concerns a few of our visitors who see the world differently than I do. One woman came in this week carrying two Porch Books. She asked, “Are these Bibles?” One was a full-size hardcover book that was a Church Annual that lists all of the congregations, their addresses, and the names of the clergy. It is certainly not a Bible. The other was a non-descript paperback book. It was very obvious to me that neither of those books were Bibles. I replied to her, “No, those are not Bibles. Do you want a Bible?” “Yes,” she said and immediately deposited those two books on the counter and went back outside. She then came in with two other books and asked if they were Bibles. Once again I said “No.” And, I asked if I could help her find a Bible. She wanted a Bible for one dollar but we did not have one for even $10 that I may have given to her for a dollar. She finally purchased a dollar book that included some Bible quotes in it.
What was obvious to me was that this woman could not read. She had no idea about what the words inside a book looked like to be called a Bible. I was deeply saddened that she was so handicapped that she could not determine on her own the kind of contents that was in a book. A bible usually has written on its cover the word “Bible.” She could not determine even that much. Another feeling that I had for her was worry about how vulnerable that woman was to anyone who could read words when she couldn’t. How easily she could be taken advantage of or be harmed by people who know the meaning of written words. At the same time, she knew that having a bible was important and she wanted one, even if she could not read it.
Ah. My heart hurts for her.