"Life would be better if I'd brought a book with me," E just said. She's stuck in a recliner with one larger than advertised Springer Spaniel stretched across her lap. But how profound. I'm thinking her sentence is as good a motto as I've ever heard--for all of life. Waiting in a doctor's office? Better with a book. Sitting at a concert, play, athletic event? Better with a book. At a complete standstill in rush hour traffic? Definitely better with a book. In fact, I have a friend who once drove from North Carolina to Washington State and in the vast, empty middle where the roads run straight for days on end, she drove with a book on her steering wheel. Now while I wouldn't try this myself, I certainly understand the impulse. In fact, I can only think of one or two occasions (like one's wedding--or wedding night!) when 'better with a book' would be entirely inappropriate.
This really hits home this morning because in a couple of days, with our closest friends, Beve and I are flying to Cancun for a week. Yesterday, K called me, wondering what kind of apparel I'm taking. I had to admit I haven't thought too much about clothing yet. I tried on a couple of swimming suits, but after the image in the mirror scared me into more gray hairs, I decided to NOT check out last summer's shorts for the time being. Those pasty white thighs are almost enough to make me cancel the whole thing...! But I can't put it off any longer. So cover me, folks, I'm going in--pulling this chubby, pale body from under its winter cloak of knit and into the light of shorts and sleeveless shirts. Sigh.
What I have done in preparation is stack a pile of books on my nightstand. Doris Goodwin Kearn's Team of Rivals is on the bottom. It's made the cut, for sure. It'll be my trip down (and as long as it takes!) reading. I have a couple of light novels--typical 'beach reads', for when the long hours when K and I sit in the sun. J and Beve will last with us about half the time. They both get antsy to 'do' something, but for me, reading is just about the best vacation 'doing' there is. Sure, they'll both bring books. Last vacation, J unloaded an entire bookshelf-full from his suitcase. I'm not sure he finished a single one. And Beve, who rarely manages to finish a single page without falling asleep at home, will ask me to help him find something to read just as we're walking out the door on Thursday (I'm already thinking about what to suggest). And J ordered a Jerry Sittser book for us to read; we've done this before on trips and it makes our conversational more intentional...though I'm not sure we ever really need it. We dive deeply pretty easily. We love to get to the heart of things--what we're doing, what God is doing, where we're hurting, where we are healing. It's all good.
So, K and I will sit on the beach, or by the pool and we'll pull out our books and dive in. Every now and then, we'll come up for air, jump into the water to cool off, pick up the conversation where we dropped it in the sand, then eventually bury our heads back in the pages. It's luxury indeed to read and sit and be together so.
Sure, we'll do other things in Cancun. We'll have great meals, we'll visit the local markets, see whatever ruins there might be to see, take walks on the beach, sit on the balcony and watch the waves. And all of it will be refreshing, rejuvenating and healing. Hopefully we'll come home ready to face whatever God and the spring have for us. I'm looking forward to all of it. To to going, the being and, especially, the reading. As E said, life is truly better with a book.