The birthday gift

It was a gray day in March, about seven months ago and about three weeks after I'd asked my sister for it, that I went outside to check the mail and found a slip for a package.

It took me a little while to realize that I was supposed to go inside and ask at the front desk for the package, but I did, and I did, and they had it. There was absolutely no evidence that it was what I'd asked for: a cardboard-brown box, sealed up with tape and marked with an Amazon sticker. Even the dimensions of the thing looked wrong somehow. At this point in time, I'm not sure if I had to sign for it or not; there's a patch of my memory that's faded out. The next thing I remember was walking around the complex, back to my room, holding it in my hands. Looking forward to cracking the tape open.

There was more packaging on it than I'd expected. The outer layer of  tape, obviously - and then tight-packed crumbles of paper inside, to secure the second box. Even after reading the description on Amazon and elsewhere, I don't think I realized that these things were supposed to come in packaging. The packaging itself was very neat - it fit perfectly together, and I remember having to figure out how to open it without damaging that final box, because it felt irreverent to do so and wasn't at all obvious. (It was simple; just lift the front/top piece off.)

And then, at last, I held in my hands my Wesley Study Bible.

It was a sensory experience for me. Everything about it was different from my only Bible - the little burgundy bonded-leather Bible I'd been given at confirmation fifteen years prior. The colors were beautiful and different. The weight distribution was different. The feel of the two-part cover under my skin was different; it was floppy, pliable, moved in my hands like water. And then I opened it - and it opened, clean and wide and perfectly, and became canny again, because under the packaging and the cover it was still made of the same Bible translucent Bible paper, white held to the light but gray as the cheap pulp paper I'd rip with my pencil-tip in first grade while I was carving my letters into the desk underneath it.

It was a random page somewhere near the middle that I opened my new Bible to. I'd need to look again, but I remember it was somewhere near the end of Psalm 119. I read that passage. Then I read it aloud.

My memory ends there, with the green-fronted book open in my hands, reading the Bible for the first time.

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