“Books are to read, but that is by no means the end of it… Even though you suspect you will probably never get around to some of  them, it is an honor just to have them on your shelves.

Something of what they contain gets into the air you breathe. They are like money in the bank, which is a comfort even though you never spend it. In the meanwhile, they are holding their tongues, even the most loquacious of them, even the most passionate… They are giving you time to find your way to them. Maybe they are giving you time, with or without them, just to find your way.”

Frederick Buechner, Beyond Words, pp. 48-49.


How wonderful to know that someone like Frederick Buechner also has books on his shelf that he has not read! If only I had read at least one third of the books on my many shelves. I hear about the books and excitedly order them usually with Amazon’s one click or call Wordsworth, our local bookstore! The books arrive in two days, they find a special place of honor at the top of a pile by my bed or desk, but when the pile approaches the height of the tower of Babel, the precious books become part of a great southern migration to one of the shelves. I spy them when I wake up in the morning in my bedroom or when I am at work in my office or in the den in my routinely painfully take in of the evening news. I fantasize about how wonderful it would be to pick up and read each of them someday. In my mind, I never give up on developing a closer relationship with them.

 I also recommend or give books to people I meet with for spiritual direction. When the person returns, he or she usually is much better than I. They have for the most part read the book and want to discuss how it helps them find God in their life. Each person teaches and reminds me over and over again about how much we have to learn from so many others who write consciously or unconsciously about their spiritual journey and how these writings often connect to our own journey.