life, the books in verse, and everything
You know when you’re stopped at a red light and you’re singing along to This Is Home or drumming the piano part from something by Michael W. Smith and for some reason you glance at the person driving the car next to you? And she’s wearing a snappy cardigan and biting her lip trying to make sure the windows are rolled down evenly and you just think- hey. We would be friends.
Or maybe you’re in the 10-items-or-less line at Walmart and it’s 10-people-or-more longer than the lines at the other registers and the guy in front of you is waiting to buy two bananas and a composition notebook. And what a coincidence, because you’re holding vanilla wafers and a package of pens.
You probably have so many friends you’ve never met. I have. I see them everywhere, but mostly I see them at book stores Half-Price Books is my favourite (along with a musty little shop in Boston) because, well, it’s half-price, and because they sell the tried and true books (which sometimes have train tickets belonging to someone named Hanson stuck inside). I spend too much money there. And while I’m shuffling along, head aslant, looking through the works of Ray Bradbury, I see shoes to my right, shuffling like mine. I glance. A glance is usually all I need to tell. And he’s thumbing through the Tolkien section, brow knit, wearing argyle, looking thoughtful. I go back to my Bradbury, grinning. Found another one. That’s two today, because I’m also counting the girl who walked in earlier and exclaimed to her friend, “It smells so good in here!” Yes it does, new favourite person. And I want to buy everything they have.
There is so much, so much to read. So many words to make you think and feel and rejoice and hurt inside. I was wondering how I’ll find the time. I need a lifetime. But that’s what I have, if Jesus asks me to wait for Him. Maybe He’ll bring me home soon (and that would be the greatest joy of all). But if I stay, if I remain a sojourner, there are treasures for me to find and maps for me to follow and wisdom and peace and happiness for me to chase. So I buy the books. This time I found a gorgeous hardcover copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, “What’s Wrong With the World” by G.K. Chesterton, a biography of Margaret Thatcher, “The War of the Worlds” by H.G. Wells, a book on the art of writing by Bradbury, and a Latin-English dictionary. I was looking for the Vulgate, but that quest has proved more difficult. Quests do that.
If my name was Wordsworth
could I be worthy of the words I clutch?
If I was called Caesar
would they render to me the worlds I touch?
If I was christened Crusoe
could I leave to explore those lands alone?
If my name was Churchill
could I use my words to make them bold?
Oh, life. Everything good in this world is merely a breath, but those are breaths of fresh air. Life is a vapour and there is not one happy thing in it that cannot also make you sad. But sad is happy for deep people. Sometimes. There’s the sadness of dusty antiques and memories long forgotten by everyone but you and empty diners and books well ended. There’s the sadness of the Doctor’s goodbyes which hurt so illogically you can’t even watch those episodes without sobbing, which is ridiculous because it’s not even real. But there’s also the sadness of letters returned and dreams that you killed and driving home crying because you know. And it hurts. It hurts because you’re alive. So I live the life and I smile the joy and cry the tears and I drink the tea strong. I say the hellos and I whisper the goodbyes and I pray the prayers and I set my spell-checker to UK English.
And I read and write the words.