When people first read my blog, I wonder if they consider me a sentimentalist. If so, just bear with me through this post.
My family is caught up in a whirlwind. My father has been accepted for the position of a worship leader and music director at an EPC church in Pittsburgh, and we are trying to pack up and move. At the same time, things are rapidly changing and progressing in my own life, which keeps me very busy with many projects.
But I wanted to talk a little about moving—oh, here comes the nostalgia and the weeping and tearing of hair and ripping of garments and the pouring of ash over the head, right? Well the title of this post can be a bit deceiving. It’s not what I do see, but what I don’t see. And what I don’t see are my books. They’re packed away snugly in square boxes. The old ones whose color rubs off are wrapped in paper towels because we don’t get the newspaper. But I can’t see them. I packed them up, and I feel all empty and withered, and I half-expect when I reach out my hand to find all the bones well defined because they are skinny and wrinkly. That’s what happens when you have to say goodbye to your friends. You get old and withered up. I won’t see them for more than two months, and I am used to seeing them every day, to having them at my beck and call.
Other relaxations are peculiar to certain times, places and stages of life, but the study of letters [books] is the nourishment of our youth, and the joy of our old age. They throw an additional splendor on prosperity, and are the resource and consolation of adversity; they delight at home, and are no embarrassment abroad; in short, they are company to us at night, our fellow travelers on a journey, and attendants in our rural recesses. – Cicero
If I have a little money, I buy books. If there’s any left over, I buy food and clothing. – Erasmus
I am sad about packing my books away. I feel a little frantic, and it’s funny, because the more books I pack, the more I buy to try and replace them. But I always find myself thinking—where’s that one book? Just when I think I’m ready to read Ernest Hemingway, I remember that, well, I can’t. I am dull when I pack away my books. And what does that show me about myself? That I am too dependent on them, perhaps? Indeed. Apart from Christ, books are what define my personality, and help give me scope for who I am. But then—isn’t that what they’re for? Aren’t books are choicest companions, apart from actual human beings? Aren’t the stories the things that inspire us, that spur us on, that strengthen our inner being? For me, yes. It’s taken awhile to realize that sometimes it’s good to pack away your books because then you don’t end up taking them for granted. I have kept out a few treasures. I’m leaving for Scotland tomorrow, and who goes anywhere without books? You didn’t think I packed them all, did you?
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
The Everlasting Man by G.K. Chesterton
To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers
Making Shapely Fiction by Jerome Stern
The Birth of Britain by Winston Churchill
And, of course, my Bible—if I can find it.
I have revolutionized my way of thinking, a little. I used to have an aversion to change. I used to sing with Keane “So little time Try to understand that I’m Trying to make a move just to stay in the game I try to stay awake and remember my name But everybody’s changing and I don’t feel the same.” But I am a bit done with that kind of thing. I have decided to live each day by itself—to seize the day. To find the truth of each day, to get to the root of it. Digging in the dirt of life can be a pleasure to the gardener, who enjoys the warm earthiness on his hands—to others, a bore and a gross task. My books are packed away, and the empty shelves point to the small pile left and seem to imply that these are what I have now. This is what I can read. This is what I have to enjoy—so, enjoy it.