Strangers Hoping to Meet

A bookstore is for people who love books and need
To touch them, open them, browse for a while,
And find some common good––that’s why we read.
Readers and writers are two sides of the same gold coin.
You write and I read and in that moment I find
A union more perfect than any club I could join:
The simple intimacy of being one mind.
     Here in a book-filled sun-lit room below the street,
     Strangers––some living, some dead––are hoping to meet.

~Garrison Keillor from “November”

Better far than praise of men
‘Tis to sit with book and pen

I get wisdom day and night
Turning darkness into light.
~ninth century Irish monk from “Pangur Ban”

Most of my life has been a reading rather than a writing life. For too many decades, I spent most of my time reading scientific and medical journals, to keep up with the changing knowledge in my profession. That left too little opportunity to dabble in books of memoir, biography, poetry and the occasional novel.

Now in semi-retirement, I’m trying to rectify that deficit, spending wonderful hours reading books I feel immersed within. As a reader, I am no longer a stranger to the author or poet whose words I read. In a few instances, I’ve had the honor and privilege to meet these authors in real life, or to interact with them on line. They have become friends on the page as well as in my life. What a miracle of the modern age!

I am no longer strangers with many of you who read my words here on Barnstorming every day – I have been able to meet a number of you over the years. It is a joy to find new friends through my words!

In the summer of 2013, Dan and I wrapped up our Ireland trip with one day in Dublin before flying home. I wasn’t sure I could take in one more thing into my overwhelmed brain but am grateful Dan gently led me to the exhibit of the Book of Kells at Trinity College along with the incredible library right above it.

I needed to see the amazing things of which man is capable. My weariness was paltry compared to the immense effort of these dedicated writers and artists.

The Book of Kells is an intricately illustrated copy of the Gospels from the ninth century, meticulously decorated by Irish monks with quill pens and the finest of brushes. Two original pages are on display at the library and the brief look one is allowed scarcely does justice to the painstaking detail contained in every letter and design.

Upstairs, is the “Long Room” of 200,000 antiquarian books dating back centuries, lined by busts of writers and philosophers. It is inspiring to think of the millions of hours of illuminated thought contained within those leather bindings.

The written word is precious but so transient on earth; it takes preservationist specialists to keep these ancient books from crumbling to dust, lost forever to future generations.

The original Word is even more precious, lasting forever in the hearts and minds of men, and exists everlasting sitting at the right hand of God, never to disintegrate to dust. He is the inspiration for the intricate beauty of the illustrated Gospels we saw that day.

God is the ultimate source of wisdom for civilization’s greatest writers and poets. He alone has turned darkness into light even in man’s most desperate hours. Our weariness dissipates along with the shadows.

God is no stranger to us – He meets us in His Word and our reading is our ladder to Him. In that meeting, we are forever His.

Finally meeting Diana Gabaldon after a long correspondence with her on line
Village Books – Lynden, Washington – our local independent bookstore

8 thoughts on “Strangers Hoping to Meet

  1. O joy, o delight!!! Books and authors and places to savor the wisdom of ages, o my!!!
    Blessings to and hugs to you, Emily, for this post.

    Books rule!!!


    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree! Books have been, and continue to be to this day, my escape and my teacher and trusted silent friend.
    The ideas I have gleaned, the challenges I have met, the worlds and people I have ‘known’ are still part of my memories.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So in agreement! And REAL books, not digital ones. You just can’t cuddle up with a blanket and laptop, trying to read print on a cold screen, and have the same heart-pleasing result!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Emily,
    I, too, was blessed to see The Book of Kells and the Long Room while in Ireland. Definitely two things not to be missed while on the Emerald Isle!
    A blessed Thanksgiving to you and your family!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. How wonderful to have met Diana. Her Outlanders series kept my sister in reading, then audiobook listening, then viewing on TV and DVD during her decline through ALS.
    Requiescat in pace, Carol Hutchinson née Colgate
    1955-09-29 ~ 2020-09-27

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh how I loved this post. Thank you for sharing. Books have been my friends in the best and worst if times. Happy you were able to meet someone you connected with. You turn a pretty phrase too, and dig deep in sharing your thoughts. Love Barnstorming:) thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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