A few Sundays ago, the Scripture was from Luke 12:
Then he told them a parable. The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?” Then he said, “I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many year; relax, eat, drink, and be merry, “ but God said to him, ‘You fool this very night your life is being demanded of you and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?”
We can relate to that lesson.
The shelves of our parents held three generations’ collection of books, and used-book stores amplified our own collection. So we said, “What should we do? We have no place for more books!” So we agreed together, “We will build a garage and park our books there. We will keep every book we have either read or intended to read. And we will say, “Soul, enjoy! Prepare a cup of tea, relax, settle back on your cushions, and enjoy them. We can live to 100 or more and not run out of books.”
But life happened, we need help dusting books, and we need to move closer to family. We can’t carry our garage with us, and they actually park cars in theirs.
So we donate the most valuable to the man who sells books on E-Bay and donates the proceeds to our church. We donate some to the library. We put paperbacks and kids books in a non-profit yard sale where those who can’t afford books can pick them up. We wrap specially selected ones for family and friends at Christmas.
But our children see what remains and ask, “Why do you keep all those books?”
A child’s storybook in miniscule type with a few black-and-white line drawing has a faded note in the front, written by Uncle Charley who died long before I was born. “This was almost the only book in our house, other than the Bible. My mother read it so much that I memorized my favorite stories.”
“The People of Our Town,” with my great-grandmother’s name in it, tells how the best housekeeper in town hardly closes the door after visitors when she’s grabbing her dustpan and broom to sweep where they had walked on her floors and shaking the rugs out the window.
Rudyard Kipling’s poems: My grandmother knew how I loved “The Bell Buoy,” and others. I was sixteen when she gave it to me for Christmas, old enough to know she stretched her small income for that gift.
A book of fairy tales with pages about to fall out, and my favorite version of “Cinderella,” came from my mother.
Longfellow’s poems: Cousin Mabel read from that when I sat on a footstool by her chair near the fireplace. Reading those now is like leaning on her knee again and watching flames leap from log to log.
“Mammals of the Yellowstone Park:” Daddy read about beavers and bears, and then we made “beaver houses” or places to hibernate with our bedding while Mom made Sunday morning breakfast.
“Bambi.” Mom read that to me when I had measles.
“Little Women.” The first long book I read all by myself, and memorized my favorite paragraphs.
“The Lonely Doll.” How our little girls loved that series!
Robert Service and “The Creamation of Sam McGee.” My Other Half memorized that and recited it when we camped on the shores of Lake LaBerge, which Service had renamed “LaBarge” for his rhyme.
We’ve carried off boxes and bags of books, but when our children see the remaining shelves, they won’t believe we weeded out any.