Thursday, July 13, 2017

What is it about Books?

I have moved, and I am moving.  Two years ago I began the process by saying "yes" to a call to serve a congregation just north of Houston, Texas.  At that time I knew I would be living temporarily in a small apartment while my husband completed his work and was able to move with me, and so I took a few of the things I thought I were the most important -- including books.

Books.  What is it about books?

Now we are completing the process, two years later, and we are packing and sorting the rest of our things, deciding what is most important and necessary and what is not.  We are taking things to thrift stores (God help us) and throwing things away and packing and labeling.  We are trying to figure out what is most important, and it's not always easy.  Especially about the books.

Books.  What is it about books?

I find the number of books I own sort of alarming, and I find that I truly do want to downsize.  i want to live a lighter life, and books are one of the heavy things.  I want to be more portable, to travel and to be available to go.  I don't want to feel weighed down with things.  And all of this is theoretical when I look at each individual book.

I won't lie.  Some of them are easy, and it's a relief.  Some of them I hadn't seen in a long time, and I had forgotten that I even had them.  Some I rescued, and put in a stack "to keep", for one reason or another.  And not all of the reasons are logical.  I have saved most of the children's books, even though I do not have children.  They are beautiful.  There are some old books I have put in the 'save' pile simply because they have beautifully designed covers.  I have decided to donate or sell books that I have loved, reasoning to myself that I will learn to love again the public library.  I have tried with some success to read some more on Kindle or Nook.  I am reading H is for Hawk on a Reading Device right now, and I love it, but when I saw some used copies in a bookstore I still had to stop and stare.

Books.  What is it about books?

It's about relationships, I tell myself.  I want to value people more than things.  I don't want to spend more time on things than I do on people.  But then I consider how I want to buy many copies of a certain book of creative prayer, and give them to all of my friends.

There is something for me about the whole book, the entire experience, that is not the same reading electronically.  There is something about the marriage of the words and the pages and the weight of it in my hands, how the whole thing is put together.  A book is a work of art.

I took a couple of book-making classes where we cut the pages and sewed the bindings and learned a little of the terminology of the making of books.

When I was a child, I  could lose myself in a book, and forget where I was for awhile.  I could lose my sense of hearing while I reading about Alice or Lucy, abut Laura or Betsy.  People would call me and I was somewhere else, because I was reading.

So books and reading are sort of a spiritual experience for me.  Not just the Bible and the prayer books, but those too.  I have caught glimpses of God, and the more acquainted I am with the Book, the more I catch sight of God in books.  (And in other places too.)

Books.  What is it about books?

The other day we were in a used bookstore, selling some books.  And while we were there waiting for the verdict, I wandered the aisles and stared at the books.  I saw a new book for young adults, a historical novel set during the Revolutionary War, told from the point of view of two young slaves, yearning for freedom.  I saw a prayer book for soldiers written during World War II.  I saw a locally published book of stories written by the students at one of our middle schools.

I know it is not this way for everyone.  Some people struggle with reading, and do not love books.  There are many paths to knowledge, and transformation.  Relationships are more important than things.

And yet:  Books.  What is it about books?

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