today as part of a general cleaning of the house. It truly is good to live with as few possessions as possible yet the thinning out of books is also an exercise in the bittersweet.
I have books from my childhood and they, for the most part, will stay. Far more than books they are physical reminders of my own history and even though I’ve not read some of them for decades I remember their tales and don’t want those memories to slip away.
Yet I’ve changed and the passing of the books from my life reflect that change. Things important to me “then” are not longer so. I’m in the same body but a much different person than I was in the years those books were part of my life. Theology, pastoral care, apologetics, ministry, even literature have been caught up in the swirl of my own evolution. What was necessary then doesn’t seem so necessary now. What was orthodox then is no longer Orthodox now and my bookshelf reflects this.
Part of me, of course, hates to give up any book just on principle. I still have, and probably will always have, a collection of various Bibles rescued from some place or another. I simply don’t know, for sure, how to give such a book a dignified exit. Yet I don’t feel the need, as well, to carry every book from every part of my life along with me for the rest of the journey. Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful for their presence and have enjoyed the part they played in my life. Yet, even they are not eternal and to get where I need to go I need to lighten my load.
So, goodbye to some of my good friends, the books that have gone with me through this life. You aren’t garbage and your destiny is to be recycled back into paper so you can emerge, if the fates allow, as a book in your next life, someone else’s treasure and memory. I needed you and loved you then, and in a way I always will. Yet there’s miles to go, for me, and the older I get the less of the physical world I want to carry on my shoulders. Heaven is out there and some day I’ll need to fly.