On Reading Memoirs

On the morning of February 6, 2012, I sat in my office on Queen Anne hill and read the following sentences, “It was the month of Kislev in the twentieth year. At the time I was in the palace complex at Susa. Hanani, one of my brothers, had just arrived from Judah.” As I read those opening lines from the memoirs of Nehemiah (as the Message so delightfully translates it), it struck me that these were words written down by a real human being thousands of years ago. They sound like the opening lines of any one of the hundreds of memoirs being written and published every year in our current place and time on earth. So often I read the scriptures with a sense of distance and formality, forgetting that these writers were flesh and blood like us. They dripped sweat, drank water and had to relieve themselves just like us. This experience this morning not only brought the words I was reading from the scriptures down to earth; but, also lifted, at least a little, the words I read of current writers a little higher than pavement upon which we walk. Who knows what will amount to something of great importance a thousand years from now?

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