He had searched his vast library for a book that he said was a very significant on his spiritual journey. The difficulty was that most of his books were in boxes and not on shelves–years of moving caught up to him.
He had forgotten the title and only remembered that it was blue with a picture of a horse on the front. After hours of searching he gave up.
Later that same week when he was in the city and decided to buy a new copy. He was feeling optimistic that they had it, yet not hopeful that he could find it without knowing what it was called.
A small victory was at least knowing the genre, which narrowed his search to a mere 3,000 square feet of books. And so he walked inch by inch scanning the thousands of titles looking for a blue spine. When he would find one that matched the colour he remembered he would pull it off the shelf and see if their was a picture of a horse on the cover. Minutes had turned into hours as he slowly scanned up and down the shelving in by inch.
So I am sitting across the table in a coffee shop from him as he is telling me this story. His voice got louder and I could guess it was going to have a happy ending by both the volume and the speed of his talking.
‘And Can you believe it?’ he said.
‘I found it’
I couldn’t believe it actually—that was an incredible feet for sure.
I looked at him with as much curiosity as he had zeal and asked the most obvious question. ‘So what is the name of the book?’ I saw the joy leave his face along with the blood. ‘I don’t know’ he said.
‘But it’s blue and has a picture of a horse on the cover!’
If that story wasn’t true I would swear it was be a buddhist teaching parable.
Sometimes it isn’t the finding that is significant, it is the searching.
My friend had a profound sense of accomplishment in finding that needle in a haystack. And for him that was what it was really about. He set out to do the impossible. He entered a 25,000 square foot book store looking for a blue book with a tree on it’s cover—and he found it, who cares what it is called. He could have walked in with a title and had someone else fetch it for him, it wouldn’t have had the same effect.
Isn’t life like that? We are searching for something that once gave our life meaning. Perhaps it was a relationship, a name, a face, a time or a place. It was a feeling of assurance that certain beliefs gave you at a moment in your life. When we think back on those times it isn’t so much the lists that we are looking for but the feeling.
For my friend the name of the book was irrelevant. He just wanted to know that it was in his collection again and that he could find it when most needed. This is all that mattered. And if he couldn’t find it. He could wander through the bookshelves of life searching for the blue book with the tree on its cover. Life is like that.
Sometimes the things that give us the most meaning don’t often make sense to others. My friend knew how searching his whole life felt, before finding his voice in that book. It was worth it for him, even though others may find it amusing. You never forget the truth that sets you free.
That day my friend didn’t just by one copy, but two. And weeks later I found one of them tucked in my mail box. I knew it was a gift from him, not because I recognized the title, but because it was blue and of course there was a horse. I would tell you what it was called, but why rob you of the journey. Life is like that. Go find your blue books with animals on the covers and forget the names but not the truths. And leave them unannounced in the mailboxes and lives of those who need it.
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Count your steps, then make them count.
When God doesn’t speak English.