Monday, January 9, 2012

friends we left behind

No man can be called friendless who has God and the companionship of good books.   
~Elizabeth Barrett Browning

   Two and a half years ago, when we left our home in the U.S., we also left behind boxes and boxes of books. For some reason, of all the stuff we left, it was the books that were really hard to let go. Their pages told our stories.  They had been with us for years – some of them since our childhoods. Others were high school friends, and others we’d learned to love as adults.  All of these books, the Lewis, the Tolstoy, the Gaskell, the commentaries, the Beatrix Potter, the Elizabeth Elliott and the Bibles represented more memories, more lessons learned, more joy than could be measured. And I wished I could share them with our children.  I ran my fingers across their bindings, each like the face of a loved one.

    “They're just books,” we told ourselves. “Just covers and paper and lots of words.  They’re replaceable.”  And then we’d weed out another layer, emptying another shelf or two. As we flipped through the books preparing to give them away, we’d find tucked inside pieces of our stories.  A receipt for a special dinner, bookmarks made by our children when they were small, a faded ultrasound picture.  Then we offered the books to friends who we knew would treasure them, too.  Friends who would care for them, and learn to love some of them like we had. 

  But, oh, the Brontes. No, I just can't bear to let go of this Dr. Seuss that Mark read to the girls when they were still babies. Oh wait, the Dickens. I think I’ll keep it a little longer.  And no, not that one!  That Peter Pan was a gift from my brother when I was only ten!  It was like saying good bye to so many old friends. 

  Then God in His goodness timed the emergence of the Kindle (Amazon’s e-book) simultaneously with the emptying of our bookshelves. This was one device that even conservative, gadget-free me could get excited about. And because of this amazing little tool, we didn’t have to be parted from so many of the authors we love. 

  Actually, because my favorite reading is the classics, most of my Kindle collection has been free.  For those of us who prefer the dead authors, Kindle books are very economical.  And I’m actually discovering many works by authors I love that I’ve never ever seen before in print.  What a totally unexpected bonus! 

  We do miss our books.  But we also love e-books, and we’re so thankful for the options they give us to keep on reading, even far from a public library system, and without rows of shelving.  They are dust-free, portable, and oh, what a blessing!  Sometimes I like to think that God timed the Kindle just for me...♥

What  books would you never give away?


Anonymous said...

We are not huge bookworms, but we do love good books. Last year, termites invaded our shelves. I have to admit, it was a real test to my new desire to see "all things" as good gifts. There even might have been a tear: part shock, part sadness. As I lifted off the therapy books, that once guided my hands when working with little people, I was convicted that I hadn't needed these books in years, and yet there were those out there who would have found them so useful. Then the doctrine books - dusty, the biographies, once read, now wasting away. We were convicted "do not store up treasures for yourselves on earth ..." We started the process of sorting, cleaning and giving. Our book shelves lie mainly empty now, I'm sad, but thankful for the lesson and the memories of the thankful people who we gave them too. And I treasure my Kindle even more! Louise xoxo

Choate Family said...

Um, we brought most of our books with us! Our shelves in the village are laden with books - the kids' school curriculum, their personal books, my husband's books for work, and my few encouraging treasures. Now, we are getting ready to pack them up to be as safe as possible during our furlough.

us5 said...

oh, Louise, why could those termites not have targeted the silly walls instead of the precious books?!? i would have cried, too. but it's true - i remember 'hearing' the question as i boxed books: "do you love Me more than these?" you're right...our real treasure is in Heaven!

and Joanne, we brought some with us too - curriculum, trade materials, a few favorites. but we had something like 8'x12' worth of cases filled with books...there was no way we could bring them all! ;D

Judy said...

Yeah. I think the Lord did time the Kindle just for you Barbs! Remembering how you ALWAYS had your nose in a book :-) I'm so thankful you had the option of a Kindle! The Lord is good!

OliveTree said...

I have a Richard Scarry 1960's storybook dictionary (story and picture with each word) that we had when I was little. Both my kids loved that book. I can't part with it. It's out of print.

I just got two kindles for my kids, and although they don't compare to holding a physical book, they have certainly convinced me for the same reasons you mention. I might get one for myself too!

us5 said...

:lol: i always have my nose in a Kindle! yes, God is SO good.

Olive Tree, we love Richard Scarry, too! though i didn't have any of his books as a child, our children did. we did store a few of those. :D enjoy those Kindles!

The Girls said...

As the grateful recipient family of MANY of those lovely books, I want you to know that your dear books are loved and enjoyed by us ever so much. They have the added pleasure of making us think of you as we remember that you gave them to us, or seeing your name (often your maiden name!) inside, or remembering how you shared a new author with us...your legacy of good literature has blessed my family and touched another generation. My girls now recommend them to others, so your gift keeps on giving. And, if you ever want them know where they are. Come visit them when you're home. :-) We can't wait to see you!

us5 said...

and we are so thankful to think of all those books, tucked cozily in the company of other wonderful tomes in the comfort of your lovely home! ♥ thank you for adopting many of our 'friends' and for loving them, too, Girls! ;) we won't take them back, but maybe we'll borrow a few off your shelves some day while we're in town? :D

The Girls said...

I hope that we have time while you're home to sit together, surrounded by "our" books and our daughters, and talk about life, while we enjoy a cup of tea. You're welcome to borrow anything we have!