Found and Lost Again at My Local Library

I stroll these aisles in almost-silence.

and forgive the guy at the keyboard

for his unlibrary-like cell phone jabbering.

My flip flops thwack thwack thwack

a metronome beat between my bare soles and the floor.

The air isn’t heavy in this place, but almost.

I was looking for something

when I got up and began this stroll

But now? Now I am hypnotized.

I am hypnotized by the samenesses and regular differences

row upon row upon of shelf after shelf after shelf.

Endless variations of differing proportions of rectangles and squares make up the shelves’ occupants.

Here, the volumes of a series on home improvement:

obediently lined up like a family for a potrait.

Identically sized and fonted as it is.

And now the art section,

burdening the nondescript shelves.

Some stretching up, some reaching out, and drawing my eyeball with dignified arrangements of colors.

I am surprised that I could not take more than a few steps

with out finding Oprah Winfrey in this place:

Diet books, fiction backed by her, biographies pros and cons.

I am only slightly more surprised

by the sheer vastness of this place.

How many volumes times how many pages times how many words on a single page?

There must be an answer to this place.

I thrill at the thought

If there is an Answer there must be one in this place!

But I am pulled from my reverie, and I look around.

An answer? Most certainly…

But how am I ever going to find it?


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

3 thoughts on “Found and Lost Again at My Local Library”

  1. Thanks, Mike. I really appreciate it. It’s great when people notice things like the capital “a”.
    I am a hippie. I actually think flip flops are for amateurs. I started the summer with these ancient leather birkenstockish things that new every curve of my feet and every whorl of my toe prints. At volleyball, I kicked them off. And the dog of one of the players urinated about four gallons. Right on top of them.
    They were ruined, and I’m still mourning their loss. It’s a pretty intense relationship, between a dude and his sandals. Until I’m ready to make the comitment I’m biding my time with cheesy, $4 flip flops (the footwear equivalent of disposable razors or gold fish, I suppose.)


  2. P.S. Did you ever hear the story of how Douglas Adams came up with the number 42? He added up the number of dots on a pair of dice; it’s a subtle way to express the idea that all is randomness.


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