I have invested most of my extra money in books. I try to buy several every month. I buy what I can read until I am able to purchase more. So why this strong need to have books?
Many, if not most, of the authors have passed on. But, and that’s a very big but, the essence of who they were, what they really thought are in their books. Each page was and is a visit with the author. I hear them through their words, some I have actually met. Some I had as professors and I hear their voices as I turn the pages.
This is a great way to visit people from the past. In their writing is the essence of their being, the true them, the part of them they thought was worth leaving to the world after they left, and I feel that as long as their writing tells their story, they are never gone or even worse, forgotten.
Some of my professors have escaped from this place but as long as their words are here, so are they. This is what books are all about. You can listen to their messages in your head and with a little imagination you can actually join in this conversation. I have become good friends with some of those who are not here, but through the link of books and language, we are not far apart. In fact, they can still give us good advise on just about everything.
There weren’t many books in my parent’s home. When they started going to church a few Bibles appeared and my dad had a couple of books on Bible study. Other than that, I had accumulated some books that were given to me. My first purchase around age 10 was a book on poetry, not an art book. An art book on figure drawing was my second. My third purchase was my own Bible, a red one that I still have today.
When I was 16, I took this Bible with me in a duffle bag when I went to work at a boy’s camp for an entire summer. I lived in a tent and rarely got into the bag but when I did I discovered a family of mice had made their home there and of course used what they could find to make their nest for the year. I expected to find my Bible in parts and pieces but not a page or the cover was touched. It was in perfect condition. That was the second big miracle of that summer.
The first was my realization that God was real and in every leaf on every tree, in fact, in everything I saw. It was my science books that brought me to this realization and a leaf that fell to my feet. I picked it up, looked at it with the scientific realization of how that leaf stored energy and that even our best scientists could not make a leaf from nothing to what I saw all around me. It was books that brought me to this awareness that God existed and was constantly active everywhere.
Much later the second major definitive realization of God came when I was present when my son, Perry, was born. I was there and it was so unbelievably beautiful. This thing we commonly refer to as birth and life but there is nothing common about it. I studied books and learned as much as I could about these babies of mine.
I am very fortunate I have a wife who also loves books and over the past 50-plus years we have collected and read books on a lot of different subjects. Of course art, the second major theme is philosophy and religion, all religions but mainly Christianity. I read about the life of Israel in the Old Testament and the Good News of the New Testament and I am still learning. Out of my last 10 books I have purchased in the last three months, eight of them have been on religion or theology. One of the other books was the last book written by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., a real eye-opener on our social situation and his struggle to keep it nonviolent. Even though they took his life, I still hear him through his words, thoughts and feelings.
This is why books are so valuable to me. I get to visit with some of the best of the best and I don’t have to travel very far. If there is a question as to content I will usually get the book from the library first. If I find it worth the price, I will buy that book to be part of my personal library. My house is full of bookshelves and boxes are full of books and I consider them all my friends and teachers.
To me good books are very much living things. In the case of the Bible, that is the ultimate book of knowledge, the ultimate book on psychology, philosophy, history and of sacrifice, and of course, the Good News in the Gospels. You have the complete story of life, death and destiny. What more could you ever want or ask for?
Harry Croghan is an artist, photographer, writer and teacher. He can be reached at 740-852-4906 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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