A loose reflection on reading.
As no particularly good child (not necessarily a particularly bad one, either) I was often taken into my parents' arms and made to see the thing in me that had gone wrong. I could smell their soap and feel the warmth of their chests, hear their heartbeats, and the voice telling me what had been bad. It is a feeling that is hard to replicate, that feeling of being safe and being seen and being aware of one's own sin. It stirs a soft place in the soul that, in adulthood, it hard to reach.
When I am very, very lucky, a book reaches in and finds that place again.
This week, it was Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, a book in which failure and success, righteousness and sin, are measured over the span of a life and in the questions posed by people much more difficult to negotiate than they appear (and, in this way, the characters are much like real people).
Other times, I'll re-read Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden, or Heidi, and I'm falling in love with flowers I can't name, hearing wind through the fur trees (there are no fur trees in my hometown), listening for the chirping of robins. I am falling in love with a thing I do not know, and when I hear real fur trees, I have already learned to love them.
This also happens with Jesus - I love that man who is God, who loved children and hated injustice, and when I meet Him I will have already learned to love him.
And when life is hard, I sometimes feel the cold metal of a fictional gun held in the hand of a fictional man who is holding it to his own head, and I am asking "what do I do with this?" Sometimes things can be solved with a few punches delivered in the pages, documenting a past that does not belong to me. When I am lucky, I am made whole again.
It's no rare thing for me to find a book. When I am lucky, I am also found in it.