I have always been drawn to the bible. As a child my parents drew lines from every important decision, lesson or principle back to that book. It was canon for our family; the measuring stick by which we judged a thing to be true or not. Yet we never learned to treat it as a magic book that held every answer we could ever need. My parents taught us, mostly implicitly, that congruency with the word was the measure of a thing’s truthfulness. They taught us not only to see the word, but to see through it. It was holy, but not in an untouchable way. It was holy in a way that required touching, feeling, tasting.
In 5th grade, I went to a Christian school operated by the church my dad pastored in the suburbs of central New Jersey. One day I stood up from my desk to go to the restroom and knocked my bible on the ground. Upon picking it up my teacher told me I had to kiss it. I thought she was joking so I laughingly placed it on my desk and made my way for the door. I should’ve known better. She wasn’t a very funny teacher. She stopped me and would not let me go until I kissed the holy book I had so carelessly let touch the ground. I didn’t know what to say so I simply did as she asked and left the room. I heard her mumble as I left, “a pastor’s son should know better.”
This pastor’s son did know better. I knew the bible wasn’t a book to be kissed. It was a book to be eaten, consumed in all its holiness. Holiness doesn’t mean fragility. Holiness means it requires one to approach it in a specific way. What is the bible’s prescribed way of coming to it? Hungry.
That was the first and last time I ever kissed my bible. Consequently, after relaying the events of that day to my father, that was the first and last time my teacher ever required other kids to do the same.