What is reading to you? Is it a chore? Is it just for entertainment? Is reading just for information, like reading a newspaper? Have you ever thought about why you read?
For me I read because it is just what I do. I can’t imagine a life without reading. I always have one or two books within reach. I read when I am bored. I read when I am happy. I read when I am sad. I even read when I am hungry, to keep me from eating junk food. I read all the time, yet, the reason I read, the why, is not something I have ever thought about. It isn’t easy to say why I read, I just read.
It would be helpful if I could figure out why I read, but I just can’t put my finger on it. I can tell you why I read what books I choose. I can tell you why I am not reading if you catch me not reading. Usually it is because I am too tired to focus my eyes on the words. But why do I read? I don’t know, I just can’t live without reading.
I can answer the question, what is reading to me? Reading is an escape. Reading is an adventure. Reading is part of my life that I would could not function without. Reading is a part of who I am. It is just one thing that I do, that if I didn’t do I would not be me.
Think about why you read and what would happen if you couldn’t read, that is what reading is to you.
I just finished reading The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman. It is a story about a group of exiles from Jerusalem in 70 C.E. They are faced with unimaginable terrors duringthe Roman siege of Masada circa 73 CE. The narrators of this tale are women, who each have their own heroic story of how they got to Masada and the role they play in the battle. They are not sisters by blood but they are sisters by their thrown together circumstances.
This story made me think about the sisters in my life. I have no natural sisters. I am an only child for my parents, but I have siblings through my parents remarriages. I also have sisters that through joint circumstances we were brought together and connected. Those sisters have seen me at my best and at my worst, yet they remain my constant trust worthy family.
Family is family whether you choose them or they are given to you by birth. It is not the way you become family that counts it is what happens immediately after you realize that you are indeed family. It is the trust and love that is important to those connections that we need, that we value, and that we can not live without.
I saw a homeless man. Not the creepy, smelly, old type of homeless man. This man was between twenty-five and thirty, He looked like a bohemian. He had on jeans with a brown belt, a blue T-shirt with a peace sign on it, and a backpack on his back. His hair was long and he had a beard. On his head was a crocodile Dundee hat, a brown felt fedora. He was smiling looking behind him as he walked and in his hand a tambourine. I couldn’t see who he was laughing at, it looked like he was carrying on a conversation. Then suddenly a small brindle colored puppy came up behind him. I could tell that this was his puppy and he loved it. The man was talking to the puppy as if it were a small child. Not in that sing-song voice we all talk to puppies but more like how we would speak to a five-year old child. “Now, you have to keep up my friend.” The puppy was limping a little. The man squatted down to investigate and the puppy rolled over exposing its pink belly. The may laughed as he looked at the dog’s feet. “Oh, you silly boy”, he said. Turns out the puppy had stickers, for you southern folks we call them sand spurs, in his feet. The man removed them, rubbed the puppy on the belly and off they went. The man was laughing and the puppy was frolicking behind him. All the while the tambourine was playing twinkling sounds in his hand. Then the man started singing. He sang a song about Jericho…”and the walls came tumbling down…” I couldn’t help but smile at what I saw.
This man was happy. I am not saying he was happy to be homeless. In that moment, with his puppy and his song he was happy. Life is that simple. We don’t need to have all the best things money can buy to be happy. We don’t even have to have a puppy following us. (It sure helps, but it is not a requirement.) All we need to be happy is knowledge that God is there and we are loved. He can move walls, put a song in our heart and wag dog tails. Life is really that simple.
I hope that I remember the happiness and love that homeless man was living with that day. Being happy, experiencing love in any circumstance is an admirable thing.