Jack reads..a lot. There are open books scattered throughout the house, some dog eared, others left for perusal at some undefined date. Some of those books are older ones that Jack read some before. There is a bit of wonderment, even from Jack, why would he read once again a book devoured times ago?
There is a joy involved in reading again a MacDonald, a Bunyan or even a Dante that defies a description by observers or even Jack himself. “ I thought you had read that one” or “ I guess you need to go through your Lewis again” It’s not that at all. It’s a hunger and the joy of a meadow once trod upon that comes into view. Quite unprepared for astonishing beauty, the lay of the land forgotten and unexpected things underfoot. Vague memories, stirred into sight and remembered more strongly than before.
It’s hard to leave and there is a presence that brings a smile and appreciation of it. The time Jack was reading his care-worn ‘ Mere Christianity’, and it occurred to him why some folks, even his own, are a bit puzzled about this habit of his. Almost as though a reaction to eating again a well prepared meal from the Mrs, or impossibly devouring a sandwich eaten years ago. Of course, there are favorite dishes, and the memory of them is fleeting but pleasant. “Didn’t we put horseradish on this sandwich last time?” can always pop the bubble for the cook.
The point is, it’s not the exact same sandwich eaten long ago, but seen and tasted anew. Even the drawings or lithographs are seen with more experience and depth. Perhaps, akin to the horseradish, it is better for the lack of it. It is, however, the same book that was not quite as absorbing or understood before.
There is one book that Gator reads over and over and always finds something new. It’s fascinating. The undeniable, “That wasn’t in there the last time!” It feels as though one of the Gator family has stuck a page or paragraph into the book just to astonish and puzzle Jack. Fun game if it were real. But of course, none of us are talented as bookbinders to pull it off. Jack does know a good friend that could do it. That friend doesn’t need to put paragraphs into Jack’s favorite book. It’s his favorite book as well and Jack, at times, puts paragraphs into his book by just speaking them. It’s called scholarship. Good friends, they share the love of old books and they both have the same favorite.
As usual in this column, you probably know the book Jack reads as his favorite. It’s a history book which goes back to the time before time. At the last chapter the book looks ahead in time to tell us history to come. Amazing. Some folks dismiss this book as fiction instead of history. Some people re-write it to agree with their feelings. Some people read it and see themselves revealed in it. It’s a real thriller, lot’s of intrigue and miracles. Whole nations becoming rich and powerful and then serious mistakes are made that destroy those nations. Tough people and weak people. People who put trust in pieces of trees (really!) People that destroy their own children for gain (sound familiar to the abortion industry of today?) Fierce battles, foolish kings. Prophets, people that hitch rides on flamed out chariots and valleys of bones turning into an army. The Earth turning backwards, complete burning destruction to cities and even a woman that turns into a pillar of salt! The whole story hinges on the hero of the book. It’s a young man from a crummy town that can heal people and give them the truth about themselves and all life’s purposes. He gives his life for everyone and promises those who love and trust him a grand eternal life. Oh yes, the hero dies and comes back to life! It’s the Bible, still the world’s best seller, available at quality book stores everywhere. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator