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The Legacy of Books – Three Lasting Impressions

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In my personal library, whispering behind me even as I write on this summer morning, are hundreds of friends. These friends are books. And I fancy that I am acquainted with the author of every one—and they with me. That, for me is the legacy of books. The white shelves host an inviting hodge-podge of vertical colors, and every spine of every book speaks to me.

Each spine is like the profile of a friend, traced in the memory, and reminds me of the one thing that book taught me, or of an author (my acquaintances, if you didn’t catch that earlier) who said just what needed to be said in a way that worked for me.

And as with all friends, sometimes the sheer disagreement with what they’ve said is a reason to keep them close. They remind me what I must leave behind, and what I must treasure and nurture and multiply like loaves and fishes.

The Legacy of Books

I am so grateful they, these authors, put thoughts, ideas, paint or prayers to paper—where would I be, who would I be, if they hadn’t?

What if I had not wrestled with their theses or grappled with their wild or quieting conclusions? What if I had not laughed at their wit or stood in awe of their mastery of the language (Annie, by what divine communion and brand of coffee did you gift us all with Pilgrim at Tinker Creek)?

Occasionally, painfully, I’ve chosen to cull my library over the years, keeping only books that are essential to my spirit, life, and work.

Giving away books can be like giving away friends for me—it’s just not done!

Turning now and scanning the shape and size of each of these books, a smile softening my face, there is one true thing I notice.

Every one one of those books has left a legacy in me.

A legacy is a deposit of wealth, invested in someone’s life, for posterity.

And there are different kinds of legacies, I am noting, that have been left within me—particularly by the books that now rise behind me like an army backing my spiritual initiative against a chaos foe. The legacy of books.

The Legacy of Books – Three Lasting Impressions

First, there is the legacy of voice—the author’s voice, phrasing, thoughts, and emotions—all moving within me.

I have hinted at the reality that, for me, I know my authors and like to think my authors knew or know me.

Each author (or painter, as is the case with many of my books) has pressed a subtle bend and curve into my own voice, writing, thinking, and feeling.

I am grateful for the legacy of words and insights from fellow writers across time.