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People are like books

January 29, 2024

We live in a small home in Merced and love the neighborhood. Years ago Jim build a beautiful bookshelf that covers one wall of the living room. Recently I dusted the shelves and found so many amazing books, from poetry to Tom Clansey, from writing books to sailing manuals, from Chinese poetry to how to learn chess, from Bibles to the Koran..... so many books, some of them read in full, others only parts. We have even a book printed in 1899 – no we are not that old but love old books.

Every book tells a story, but every book has a million endings, because every person that reads the book will have different thoughts that are set rolling, different memories it brings up, different interpretations. Jim (my husband) loves poetry and the depth of emotions that come with most of them, I don't get them, I can't figure out how things rhyme and what they are saying. So Jim has to explain them to me. I enjoy spy novels but Jim cares less for the shallow development of the characters. Every book tells a story but it depends on the reader on what they get out of it.

I think the same is true about people. I imagine people standing on the long shelf, all nicely organized in categories We 'pick up' the person and start interpreting their story with our experiences and all of a sudden the person is wearing labels that should have never defined them. The labels might be "conservative", "professional", "addict", "liberal", "Asian", "stay at home mom", "pastor", "wife", "homeless" or any other label that reduces a person to make them fit our interpretation. But people are more than the page of their lives we just walked into, there is so much more to the story, and even more than the 'book' can ever contain.

Jim has a good memory, there will be times when we talk about one thing and he will get up, pull a book of the shelf and read a paragraph that helps guide our conversation. There is always more to a book than one story line.

What if we look at people that way, what if we see their beautiful stories that are still unfolding, seeing the highs and lows, learning from the person, not judging them for the page we walked into, but rejoicing with them on the journey? What if we go back to the person and learn more from them? Every person a treasure, every person still in their own development, every person created in the image of God. The 1899 book on our shelf was "Luck of Roaring Camp" about life during the gold rush. Jim read parts to me and it reminded us of the hardship and the beauty of a time gone by.

I want to encourage us to pick up a book today that you ordinarily would not read, talk to a person who lives a different life then you, engage with someone who you don't agree with and listen to them. Human beings are treasures, just like a there is a trove of treasures on our bookshelves.

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