In my room, beside my bed, stands a bookshelf filled with my favorite books. Today, I took some time to do a thorough cleaning of the bookshelf. I took everything off all of the shelves, sorted through the stuff that has accumulated, and dusted off the books, mementos, treasures and the shelves that hold them all.
As I sorted through my favorite books, I felt a real fondness for them. On the top shelf, I found my collection of books signed by their authors. I opened each one and was reminded of each experience of meeting these wonderful writers. Tom DeWolf, Harriet Washington, Julia Serano, James Cone, Vivian Gussin Paley, Sharon Flake, and Helen Prejean. My copy of Sr. Helen’s Dead Man Walking has the added bonus of being signed by Susan Sarandon, who starred in the movie. One of my sister’s novels sits among these books, as does the literary magazine that holds one of my daughter’s short stories.
This top shelf also houses my own journals – some filled with my thoughts, others half-begun and then abandoned, and still other beautiful books still untouched by my pen. These journals signify my own hopes and dreams, chronicle my path to where I am today, and will continue to hold my thoughts in the future.
The second shelf is full of wisdom. The profound writings of Thomas Merton, Thich Nhat Hanh, Richard Rohr, Mary Pipher, Oscar Romero, Dalai Lama, John Powell, and Matthew Kelly sit on this shelf. Each author has taught me so much and these books have opened my eyes and heart. I ran my hands lovingly over each cover as I returned it to its place. I paused when I reached the book, The Power of the Powerless by Christopher de Vinck. This book changed my life and reinforced the truth that each and every life is valuable. I said a prayer of thanksgiving for the author as I slid the book back into place. Other perspective-changing books are also on the second shelf – God is Red, Nonviolent Communication, Uprooting Racism, Six Weeks to a Simpler Lifestyle, Seek the Peace of the City, Encountering the Sacred. So much wisdom. Wealth beyond measure. It would do me good to re-read each of the books on this shelf.
The bottom shelf of my bookshelf holds Bibles, prayer books, my favorite compilation of stories and poems, a few guide books for photography, photo editing, writing, living simply and living nonviolently, and a few other books waiting to be read.
After taking a minute to dust and organize the photos lining the top of my bookshelf, I stood back and admired the finished job. Looking at the books displayed on the shelves, I was amazed at the wisdom stored on their pages. I am grateful to the authors for sharing their wonderful thoughts. I hope to, one day, write a book that will help others the way that these authors have helped me.