For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
"Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble." 1 Peter 3:8
My father was what you would call a self-taught man. He left formal schooling ‘round about seventh grade. He was born into oppressive poverty of the physical, emotional, and spiritual nature, but his mind was a wealthy and fertile place despite his circumstances.
His mama was illiterate, and she carried shame-filled words inside her, scrambled up letters blurring the hard edges of her life. Those words claimed her and named her and kept her hopeless. She had no tools to rewrite what she’d been taught.
I can’t imagine living in a world where words couldn’t speak to me and rewrite my truth, and I suppose my dad couldn’t either. I don’t know what causes some souls to hunger and ache to know, but he surely did. He wanted to know, or maybe to be known. Don’t we all want that just a little bit? Don’t we all want to understand ourselves and to be understood? So, my dad found solace in books. He read himself out of his seventh grade skills and into a world born new. He devoured books as if they could nourish the lost parts of his childhood; as if they could mentor him to manhood—educate the poor right out of his life. And in so many ways, they did.
That’s the thing about books. They are worlds unto themselves. Bound and covered, the pages unbind us, uncover the hidden things we all hold. They can be revelatory, showing us our shared humanity or lack thereof. They are markers of commonality, like broken bread or a meal shared; words open up a place at the table and a spot in the conversation of the ages.
Books show us our history, our transgressions, our victories. They instruct us patiently, waiting on our night table to be picked up again, ingested, processed, harnessed, to bring about clarity and skill. They lighten the mood and enchant us with stories of a thousand lives lived. Books are a gathering of words that become companion and commissioner, sending us out into the world with an extra measure of empathy, grace, hope, and knowledge. Our minds sharpened, our hearts opened, our souls a bit freer with each page.
Books help alleviate the poverty of soul we’re all born with, because although each of us is born into a singular story, we were made for an anthology.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Do you think stories and books are markers of commonality in the same way a shared meal could be? In what ways are they similar or different? Do you think we’re made for an anthology? In what ways can we engage other people’s stories beyond the page?
PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, we thank you that you are the grand storyteller. The narrative you’ve woven throughout all time constantly and consistently reveals you. Remind us of the power of words, and specifically of your Word to nourish our souls and strengthen our minds. Help us be a living anthology of praise. Let us be people who make space for others and who are hungry to know and to be known. Amen.
Best Books for Business
As the saying goes, “So many books, so little time.” We all love a good book list. The stacks of books on our nightstands threaten to reach the ceiling, and we are constantly combing yard sales and thrift stores for a bargain on a bookshelf to store all our treasures. Which books are your favorite? And, if you had to narrow down that list to your favorite books for business, which titles would we find there? We asked a few writers to share their recommendations with us, and we thought we’d share their suggestions here with you, in this series, Best Books for Business. See if any of your favorites make an appearance here.
Featured image by Marty Hadding. Used with Permission. Source via Flickr.