DELAVAN, Ill. -- Faith communities shape the memories of many of us -- sometimes for good, sometimes not.
One of my good memories rooted in faith happened in the sanctuary you see here, which I visited this past Sunday.
This is the Methodist church my Tammeus grandparents attended and the church my uncle and aunt (he's my late father's brother) still attend. Thus, it's the church where the funerals of my grandparents were held -- Grandma's in 1953, Grandpa's in 1960.
I was eight when Grandma died. And I remember sitting with my maternal grandparents, who lived about 100 miles away in Streator, Ill.
When the service ended, Grandma Tammeus' casket was taken to the back of the sanctuary and opened for people leaving to see. My maternal grandmother, with me at her side, walked up and patted Grandma Tammeus' hands. "Farewell, Kate," she said.
It surprised me. Even shocked me. I didn't know you could or should touch dead people in their caskets. But it was such a sweet thing that I've never forgotten it. It was kindness personified, a sort of kindness that was part of who my maternal grandmother was, but a kindness I always associated with a biblical phrase, "loving kindness."
My maternal grandparents were given weekly lessons about the need for such kindess at their Presbyterian church in Streator. And they lived out those lessons -- so much so that an 8-year-old has never forgotten.
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A BIBLICAL FIND
A fragment of an ancient Bible text has been discovered by accident in Egypt. It's always fascinating to see how few change in the texts there are in such ancient versions. On the whole, the care taken by scribes and translators over the centuries has been remarkable.
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P.S.: Please plan to join me and my co-author, Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn, at one of the two upcoming (this Thursday and this Sunday) events described here to launch our new book, They Were Just People: Stories of Rescue in Poland During the Holocaust. Rainy Day Books will be there to help you buy a copy and you'll even get to meet some of the people whose remarkable stories we tell in the book.