In the kitchen, a calendar hung to the right of the wall-mounted rotary phone. I asked my mother what was so good about Good Friday. I was in the 4th grade. Not long after I asked that question, my stepfather, mother, younger sister, and I started to attend St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in San Mateo. For my Confirmation in 1976 I was given The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) with TERESA engraved in gold letters on the pristine white leather cover.
By middle school, our family was one of about a dozen that broke away from St. Matthew’s. Together, we started Christ Church, an Anglican Catholic church.
Over the years, many men of the cloth signed my BCP: archbishops, bishops, priests, and deacons.
That book was a part of me through a multitude of Sunday services, holy days, Christian holidays, and funerals. My Sunday School teacher, Leslie Cahoon, and Fr. John T. Cahoon (later Bishop), were instrumental in shaping my life, particularly when I learned I was pregnant at 16.5 years old. I fell in love with Latin thanks to Leslie and Fr. Cahoon. Because of them I chose to study it at Aragon High School. Latin has helped me tremendously with English as well as when I was an occupational therapy student learning many medical terms. I also fell in love with hymns which led me to join an a cappella choir at Aragon. In the back of my BCP I’ve ticked favorite hymns, many of them I sung in the shower in an effort to perfect my singing.
One of my favorite prayers is At Night:
O Lord, support us all the day long, until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then in thy mercy grant us a safe lodging, and a holy rest, and peace at the last. Amen.
If I had to vacate my home in an emergency, had the luxury of time to gather a handful of items, The Book of Common Prayer would be one thing I’d grab. Its white leather cover is now gray, faded, flaking, dry. When I trace its delicate pages and cover I reflect upon all who have shaped my life, for better or for worse. Many are no longer in my life, by choice or by death. Many souls, including my own, I’ve prayed for with that book. No other book in my possession has so much meaning, history, or emotions when I see it or hold it.