The Parables of Peanuts…
The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius…
She keeps coming back to these books – and their kind – in my religion shelves here. She just stays there in front, looking at the titles on the spines (perhaps, ‘seeing’ would be a more suitable term). She sees those books as if there was a part of her there, a part of the authors who too longed for truth and for love in what they believed in.
She hasn’t bought any of those books yet, but if something called to her powerfully, she definitely would. I’ve seen her many times now to know that she was one of those people who had piles of unread books in their home but would still buy a few more.
Would one call that a vice?
Perhaps a person who dislikes books and truth would.
I am a bookstore, so in my eyes, it is a virtue.
Just recently, she held a different book in her hands: the Letters of van Gogh. She probably had a connection with this famed artist of the past, for I saw her browse through the pages, and upon reading a certain passage, well… she – or I…
I saw tears coming from her eyes. I heard a small faint gasp first, and then an “Oh, God” and then, that’s when the tears appeared.
What must have she read to make her show her tears to me like that? In a bookstore for all that matters!
She must feel very comfortable and safe within my walls, within shelves of books written by authors who are alive, well, and thriving and by authors who passed but whose memories are alive, well, and thriving.
To let her guard down like that, I am curious.
Once she left, van Gogh in a paper bag in her hands along with a book called “Life of the Beloved and Our Greatest Gift” by Henri Nouwen, I asked the biography bookshelf a question (who was just beside the religion bookshelf she regularly visits) – maybe this shelf was able to see what made this frequenter tear up. I wondered because was there any mention of God, Jesus, or love making the universe in those books?
The shelf shared to me what she knew.
I too was touched by what she had read in those pages of van Gogh’s letters.
It was interesting… It seemed that anything related to the Divine Being, to His love abounding for an ordinary person, could stir her emotions, let alone cause a whirl or a wave in her face that usually carried a calm expression.
The religion shelf divulged to me the rest of the passages she once scanned in the books she brought before. She stays there the longest, so this bookshelf knew her too. She would just visit, be with the books and the energy they have, and then leave afterwards, empty-handed but happy, as if a visit to the mall would be incomplete without going here to me.
She must feel very safe and like her solitary self here besides at home where she lives. I wonder now who else could have seen her like that, quietly tearing up because of something she read in a book, in a public place like a bookstore. Or simply crying without a reason.
But of course.
Perhaps it is God.
I wonder how God could talk. I have never seen Him nor has anyone introduced me to Him. Does He like books too? Does He visit bookstores like me? Have authors long gone met Him? How does He communicate with people?
As I gazed at this girl now outside walking away happy again from my store, I found the answer.
The books in her hands…
This girl, a quiet creature who enjoys her solitude but is not okay with isolation, seems to meet God through these books… She looks to me like one who would always try to find the divine in the most ordinary, secular, unexpected things of this world, believing that everything has been touched by the creative energy of love.
Surely, when she comes home, she will sit herself on a proper chair and open the books she bought. She would try to find that page again where she read those words of van Gogh, the ones that gave her a little cry within my walls that day:
“And then he imitated Father Bernhard: God – God Almighty – He has made the sea, He has made the earth, and the sky, and the stars, and the sun,and the moon; He can do everything – everything – everything – no, He is not almighty, there is one thing He cannot do. What is that thing the Almighty cannot do?
God Almighty cannot cast out a sinner.”
If these walls of mine could cry, they would have already too.
This writing exercise was from Ms Isa Garcia‘s The Breakfast Club monthly themed workshop I joined last November 17 wherein I was asked to write ‘if these walls could talk.’ I had to write about myself through the eyes (or walls) of the place where I feel most like myself. As if the walls are beholding me, as what Ms Isa said. These are the words of a place I love to visit: Fullybooked in Greenbelt, Makati. Thank you for this, Ms Isa. Join her next workshop in January 19, 2019! Email her to reserve your slot at email@example.com. You will learn a lot about living and writing. ❤