The Book

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Although I love this spot, the location does not keep me here. It’s not the beckoning sun, gradually filling the stained glass and splashing the walls with gold, emerald, and indigo. It’s not the hushing silence interrupted only by the loudly ticking clock. And it’s not even the strong espresso, as necessary as it is, hinting of raw sugar and frothed milk. No, these are not magnetic invitations.

It’s the book. Tattered and dirty, this book smells of the past. A brown drop of coffee, the pen mark from a child, and the faded yellow of a highlighter all bear evidence of a vital history indelibly imprinted upon these pages. It smells musty and damp, with the wink of vanilla. This book has endured four bindings and multiple miles.

Like my favorite childhood blanket, this book comforts me. The spine sinks into my hand, and the onion leaf yields to my fingers. I know this book, and this book knows me. We have encountered life together, this hardback, and I. 

We met one another in a bookstore off University Avenue. I was a teenager, skinny, wide-eyed, and risk-seeking. The book was new, clumsy, and crisp. We moved into the dorm together and struggled to find our place on campus and into one another’s lives. Classes, changes, and relationships sparked around us while we silently touched one another in ways no one else could see. We became friends in those early years, my book and I. 

In time, my book introduced me to another love, and I was overjoyed to find someone else who cherished the volume as much as I did. This truth lover had the same book and showed me unseen touch points in its depths. This nonfiction held us together, so we committed to spend a lifetime unraveling its hidden secrets in the book’s presence. 

The book journeyed in the car with me upon graduation and labored at the bedside during my first childbirth. My life became hectic, and I neglected the book, passed over the masterpiece, and generally became distracted with many things. Yet, the book waited quietly, all-knowing and infinite. With eyes full of comprehension and wisdom, the book urged our steps forward, and soon, the book lover and I stumbled onto exotic soil with our books buried deep in our luggage. 

Awakening alien and unfamiliar, I unpacked the book and found familiar avenues along the pathways of Bethany and the roads of Emmaus. While my neighborhood emitted smoke and exhaust, the book gave me deep draughts of a sweet aroma filled with knowledge and understanding. While I struggled to swallow hair vegetable and fresh eel, the book was sweeter than honey and tangy with delight. We became intimate, my book and I. 

With love comes vulnerability, and with vulnerability, risk. So followed dark days of hatred, sorrow, and grief as the book and I walked through life together. I’ve misunderstood the book, doubted the book, and taken it for granted. I’ve challenged it, questioned it, and demanded retribution. As with any long-standing relationship, my book and I have seen much; some days, only my initial commitment returned me to it. 

But the book began to animate within me somewhere between the day of discovery and the day of small things, between the flyleaf and the endpaper. Living. Active. Penetrating. The written book in my lap transformed into the Living Word in my heart. No longer a nominative pronoun, the Book became a person — a living “He,” not an impersonal “it.” And He was mine. 

My Book’s truths extend beyond a particular page, a cramped note, or a cross-reference scribbled in the margin, though He most certainly includes each. My Book has imprinted me with a divine embossing that breathes, brightens, encourages, and energizes. Though dog-eared and aging to the eye, my Book is a Person, ever-new and interactive, Who whispers to me gently and sings to me softly.

To you, my Book may seem worn and dirty, held together by bits of cloth and brush strokes of glue. But to me, my Book is priceless, incalculably valued by the mingling of His lifeblood with my own. I’d like you to know Him, my Book, Who became tattered flesh and, in turn, experience how a bound volume can produce life within you. Find your spot beside the Book and leave the rest to Him. He will find His spot within you.