It might have been because the day is gorgeous today. Even at 9AM when I was walking to church, the sun was high and warm, and the surroundings were just… lovely.
It might have been because of the sermon today. I’ve been praying for God to give me a love for His word, and the message talked all about how precious and powerful and wonderfully good the Word is. The resonance of truth really stuck with me as I began my walk back to campus.
I do believe it was because I felt God told me to slow down. Just on my way back home I was thinking about all the things I should do, and it was if His hand fell onto my shoulder and just, halted me. I looked around and noticed anew how beautiful the day was. To my left was a bench in the sunshine, and I decided to sit, and just be.
I watched the people go by, and the buses and the cars and the bikes zoom around me. An old man asked to take the seat beside me, and I was delighted to oblige. His mind seemed to be elsewhere though, so I didn’t press him for a conversation. One interesting situation happened when a bike stopped at the bookstore in front of me. The rider was interested in the display in the window, and after a few minutes of contemplation, parked his bike on the side of the store and entered. Not so far in that he could no longer see his bike, but far enough to sooth the curiosity that had no doubt formed in his mind. He seemed like a book-lover to me, not just for the sake of reading or learning but also just to appreciate. And so, soon after he left and my friends went by me to the church I had left a half hour before, I decided it was my turn to take a detour, and entered the store.
I didn’t get much farther than the doorway either. The books that faced you as you walked in had such interesting titles that I simply stopped and picked them up. The first I looked at was called Our Paris, and it was a man’s recollection of his time in Paris with his friend (partner? lover? it was never explicitly stated) before poor Russel died of AIDS. I read the forward and the first chapter as I stood there in the entrance of the bookstore, and was moved by the narrative voice and the story that it revolved around. It centered on the theme of time – how much changes in our lives and yet everything around us seems to remain frustratingly the same. As enjoyable as it was, I put the book down.
A brief glance at the other titles and I was going to leave. But sue me – I found the title called God Lives in St. Petersburg. Who was I to pass that up?
As I guessed, the content is rarely religious (I couldn’t imagine any bookstore in the area putting Christian Fiction in their walkway anyhow), but the narrative is superb. Only a few pages into the first of the collection of short stories proved to me that this Tom Bissel was a writer whom I could admire. I wrote down the title in my notebook, intending to look for it later online or something like that, but then I stopped, and looked at the book again.
God, can I buy this book? I asked. I heard a faint yes, but I hesitated. I’m short on money as it is, and I needed to focus on not buying food, let alone buying books. I could probably get a cheaper version online anyhow.
But I still didn’t move. Finally I smiled and, with a claim to a step of faith, bought the book. I walked out with a smile on my face and peace in my heart, believing with all my heart that this was a small gift from God: beautiful words.
I’m very excited to pour into it, but first, I need to read another chapter from my Bible. For which words are the most precious of all if not for the words that were penned by men who had all heard the voice of God? So I suppose I fell in love with two books today: one that speaks to my love for literature, and One that feeds my love for God.