Monday, June 11, 2012

Words Immortal - M. Laycock

While attending a trade show recently I entered a draw at a booth advertising photos put on canvass. I won a 40% discount on a 12x18 canvass and the woman told me I could send them any photo I wanted and any wording I wanted to be put on the photo. "You can even put a poem you wrote on it if you like," she said, showing me an example. "It will be immortalized." My ears immediately perked up. I liked the sound of that.

It was a few days before I got around to picking a photo. I scanned through some of my writing to find something appropriate but couldn't settle on anything. Then I began to think about that word 'immortalized.' Wow. A big word. A big concept. Then I chuckled at myself. Yes, it appeals to my writer's ego to think that my words might last forever, but I know the concept is flawed. A printed piece of canvass may last longer than a piece of paper but it cannot be immortal. Only God's words can and do make that claim. The prophet Isaiah tells us, "The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever" (Isaiah 40:8).

I saw proof of that fact in Jerusalem a few years ago. I was stunned to silence while walking through The Shrine of the Book that houses the Isaiah scrolls found in the caves of Qumran near the Dead Sea. It was awe-inspiring to see those fragments of scripture penned so long ago, amazing to think that though the parchments are fragile and disintegrating, the words themselves have survived and will survive, forever.

There was another book on display that day, one that literally made me catch my breath. Encased in glass and set in a prominent place is The Aleppo Codex. This manuscript was created in about 920 A.D. and is the oldest copy of the Hebrew Bible in existence. It is also the first manuscript to be bound the way books are bound today, rather than rolled in a scroll. In essence, it is the first book.

The history of the Aleppo Codex is intriguing and speaks to the zeal of the Jews for preserving God’s word, and to God’s zeal for doing the same. Though it has been stolen, ravaged in riots, almost destroyed by fire, and lost entirely, (in fact a chunk of it is still missing), the book has survived.

There was something stirring about seeing it. I wanted to touch it, but of course the glass prevented that. But I still had a sense of profound connectedness. Here was an ancient object, words copied by a rabbi centuries ago, that is still used today to teach about God. These are the same words that are in the various copies of the scripture I have in my own home, the words I can sit and read any time I want to. These are the words God has given us to teach us about himself. As I stared at that first book, the feeling of being connected to those ancient people and to God himself was deeply moving.

The experience has given me a new awe for this thing I do called writing. No, my words will not last forever but God has given me the skill and will to write because He has purpose for my words. What an amazing thing God gave us when he inspired those men long ago to create an alphabet. What an amazing thing that God continues to call “scribes” to record and create, using the tools of writing, all to his glory.

I sent the photo away to that company to make the small canvass with words on it. But they aren't my words. I chose a passage of scripture instead.
Marcia's second novel, A Tumbled Stone has just been released. Visit her website -


Peter Black said...

Marcia, thank you for this pensive piece; it speaks to and for those of us who write from a Christian worldview and a biblical perspective.
Your reflection on your visit to the Shrine of the Book is very poignant for me, as I experienced a similar sense of wonder and connection on my visit there quite some years ago.

Diana said...

I love the thought of seeing the real live pieces and the Book up close and personal. And I wonder if someone will be looking at a DVD of whatever we've produced a thousand or 2000 years from now with the same reverence. Of course they'd have to have the computer, the software, etc to load it in order to read it. I wonder what our technology will do for posterity in the future.

Glynis said...

Yes, only God's word will remain! What an experience that trip must have been for you. Thank you for sharing Marcia and what a treat it is/was to see you at the conference. Blessings, Glynis

Eleanor Shepherd said...

Dear Marcia,
What a helpful reflection on the significance of our writing that helps us place it in the larger context. I am grateful for your thoughts about a subject close to my heart.

Marcia said...

Thanks for the kind comments, folks. Glynis and Diana, it was great to see you both at W!C.
Peter, where were you? ;0


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