Sunday, July 6, 2014

Books and more books

I was a guest at someone's home this weekend. This is special because our home tends to be the hub these days.  Don't get me wrong.  I love that our home can be "grand central" for everything and everyone... the kids, their friends, their friends' friends.. and so on.. I love love love it.

But every so often, I like to go places.  Since this is going to be one of those years where we may not actually go anywhere farther than the midwest,  I took the opportunity to "travel" to visit friends as far  as an hour away.

One of the reasons I love to visit people in their homes is that you learn so much about someone when you are in their home.

You learn about their values.  You see.. values aren't something you can tell about someone by talking to them at church or reading their blog or even having a Skype chat.  We all--myself included-- put some sort of ruse on in these settings.  Even those of us who truly value transparency and somehow internally coerced to put on the ritz in some way or another.

Not so with hospitality.  Maybe that is why so many people are reluctant to do it.  You can not fake it for that length of time.  It forces humility on you--just by the reality of it all.

And that is good.  I know all about feeling futile in the hospitality department.  It doesn't stop me from doing it, though. And since I am constantly forced to face my inadequacies in this way, I am just thankful.. purely thankful to be the guest in someone's home.  In other words, I'm not out searching for dust bunnies.  I'm just taking in the experience of it all..

And when I leave, I always (and I mean always) come away with a blessing and something I've learned from the people I've been with.  This weekend was no exception.

Both my friend and her husband were raised on the mission field.  Things that we take for granted were scarce for both of them.  The most startling realization for was their pure, unadulterated appreciation of: books.  There are shelves and shelves and shelves of books in every. single. room.  Even the bathroom fits books in places where I would never think to put them.

Clearly, the appreciation of reading and good literature is a high value for this family.  When the husband of the family showed Will his bookshelf, he just beamed with pride.. 'Look at what we have here.  These are books that my parents could only dream of having.. " (while he was being raised in Zambia)

The wife of the family mentioned how books were her comfort and her teachers when she had no other help..

Clearly, having books is not just something they put on the shelf in order to "look smart".  No.  They actually read them. They love them.  They live them.  They are.. in effect.. long, lost friends. They are..  precious.

A lot of preachers reference books in order to sound erudite.  That's fine and all.  It's not like that with this family.  They appear to "become one" with each book so much so that they are free to give any and all of their books away after reading them.  They don't quote from books or even reference them much in conversation.  It is just something they do like eating.  You can eat without talking about it.  But the food has changed you.  If you get deep with them, then yes, they reference the book.  They always seem to know what book, author, and what it was that changed them.. even if they have no clue who they've loaned out the book to at the moment.  

Who knew?

I used to read books, and I still do occasionally, but it has been an area of weakness in my life lately.  There too many short, witty, funny internet articles to read instead--the quick fix drug of mildly intellectual people.  Yes, I am lazy about book reading since I've discovered how quickly information can be extricated from the internet.

That's why I travel.  I learn things.  I get new appreciation for things.  Or I just remember that I used to read books-- a lot of books--and like it.  Yes, I liked it.

But I don't just like books.  I like people who like books.  Thanks for reminding me what I like and what I want to value.

When you live it out, it can't be hidden.  To my friends--the book lovers--thanks for valuing good things.  I needed the reminder.


Sarah said...

Hi Jena - this was such an encouraging post - I have never, ever thought of how I read books as some great virtue. It just 'happens'. Thanks for this - it brightened my day - but really, YOU brightened our entire future in this house after your take-the-bull(ahem, mess)-by-the-horns approach! We LOVE you!!!

klmorell said...

Hey Jena, I needed to read this today! And be reminded of the good ole days when I did more reading. Your words reminded me of so many times when I enjoyed quiet moments getting lost in good book. I need to recapture those moments again! You have inspired me!

Anonymous said...

LOL I'm such a book worm. It's crazy obvious whenever people walk into our home - we have more books than shelves, so they're pouring out of baskets, balanced on places where most people would put knick-knacks, in every corner imaginable. We actually bought this house because of the built in shelves!

(ps, if you ever want to go REALLY crazy and drive 3 hours, you're welcome here!)