Upon stepping through my front door a visitor will discover that I am a hoarder of the sacred. Over the years I have taken great comfort in things that recall my memory to moments of growth and connection with spirit–to places I have lived, and to people and experiences that have touched my heart.
I build alters from stones and feathers found on nature walks. I collect maps from cities I’ve travelled to and postcards written to me from loved ones in far off distant places. I have prayer beads, glass angels, hand carved statues of the Buddha, hamsas to ward of the evil eye, pictures of friends and family, inspirational quotes and journals.
And I have books.
All kinds of books. Novels and non-fiction, young adult books (yep.), history books, language acquisition books, spiritual self-help books, books on how to be financially conservative, books on how to have difficult conversations, books about war, books about peace, books about love, books about travel, books about yoga, books in French. I have second-hand bookstore books, books from Amazon.com, books I’ve read eight times and books I’ve never read at all.
All of my books are sacred. Each one of them containing a small and profound universe.
My bookshelf represents spiritual potential. As if in a trance or deep meditation–here, physically on my couch or in my bed or on the train–I achieve what the gurus call awakening when I open a book. I am fully engulfed in the present moment, devoured by a black-hole I soar through time and space. I inhale the scent of the pages and I am reborn with each new plot as I dance with both primary and supporting characters alike. I experience the ascent to the climax and come back to this earthly plane only upon pressing a bookmark safely between the book’s pages.
As I near the end of a book, I usally slow down. My curiosity for the summation is over-taken by a feeling of impending nostalgia. Like the feathers and statues and candles and rocks on my alter, I both mourn and celebrate their memory in these words,
The last page of a book is the sweetest kind of meloncholy. It’s a journey travelled from beginning to end, experienced through my lens and knowledge of self. The experience is highly spiritual and, most importantly, it is mine alone, no matter how many book clubs have read the same work.
Not all stories have happy endings, and I would venture to say that I’ve rarely come across a spectacular book wtih a happy ending. For me, the best books evoke an emotion, which I seek to savour, as if it were a beautifully aged bottle of wine. The conclusion of the best books leaves the reader reflecting on the lessons learned and the growth they have gained as if they lived through the eyes of the characters.
Reading is an act of spirit. It infuses Self into pages filled with words written by another. In that connection between the reader and the author’s text, the walls of illusion fall down and unity is achieved.
As a church is to a Christian, a mosque to a Muslim, a synogogue to a Jew, a temple to a Hindu or Buddhist or the forest to an outdoorsman, so is a library is to me.
Within the walls of a library I am surrounded by a community of seekers–those who crave the unity of written word and spirit. A cohort who worship authors and their works of creative genius and who come back time and again for that unique and individual connection to the divine universe of a good book.