Friday, January 22, 2010

Libraries

I'm thinking today about libraries.  My sister who lives in Ventura, CA recently told me that her favorite public library branch, the one between her home and her job, the one she frequents more often than most grocery stores, is closing.  Now, in a city that has four high schools, a junior college and about 25,000 more people than our small city, will only have one library.  She said it isn't like her favorite branch was a ghost town either.  In fact, it was thriving...in every way but financially.  So it's doomed.

I'm also thinking about this, because I was just reading an article about the most amazing libraries in the world.  Right in our corner, the downtown Seattle Public Library was on the list, and the Library of Congress, which shouldn't be surprising. Here's the Library of Congress's reading room:

Doesn't it make you want to sit there, read tomes and think more deeply than you ever have before?  To me, libraries have the feel of churches--and I mean any library, anywhere.  That's what words mean to me--something supernatural, with the ability to create, record, change lives.  I could sit in this place until they kicked me out, and never get tired (even if my hind end did!).


As I was scrolling through the photos, I kept waiting for one particular library to be shown.  A library I had the chance to visit a few years ago on a trip with my mom and sisters.  It took my breath away.  The Long Room at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.  I can't tell you what this space meant to me. 


Amazing, isn't it?Doesn't it make you want to tiptoe, whisper, and maybe say a prayer or two?  The written word.  It just does something to me.

Downstairs, in a dark room, in a glass case with special lights to preserve it, is the Book of Kells, a illuminated copy of the gospels, scribed by Celtic monks around 800 AD.  Two pages are on display at a time, an illustration and a text.  It took my breath away to see those pages, just to imagine 1200 years between the writer and the reader...and the words written as true for them as they are for me.  In that darkened room, with those lovely hand-painted words so beautifully rendered by the scribes, I finally had a sense of how timeless our Word of God really is.  The same yesterday, today and forever, we're told.  But mostly we think of it as ours--for our day and our time.  We're compelled to find meaning for ourselves.  As we should. But the fact is, those monks (probably three did the work on this wonderful book) were full of the Holy Spirit, inspired by the Word to create something beautiful.  Because it had touched their lives. They created a work of art from the written word of God. We know nothing about these monks.  Yet we know everything--by their hands' careful illumination of the gospels, we know they loved the words within.  And the Incarnate Word within.

Words and the Word, and The Incarnate Word.  A word about such words--Hallelujah!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I'll go to the Library!

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