Saturday mornings, I love them! Yoga, coffee, and books. After my yoga class in a church, coffee in one of the parks, I get to go to the library and spend the rest of my morning browsing around in books, books, and more books. I don’t have any particular pattern for browsing, just that I usually start with something in the back of my mind, something I had read about, or something I want to learn about, but most times I let the books call to me. This morning it was about juncos. Every January, these little black and white birds show up on my deck, first thing each morning, even before I get out of bed, to look for any leftover bits of bread that I might have thrown out the previous day. They’re the cutest little birds (more about them another time) and I slowly started learning bits and pieces about them. Today I thought I’d read up on them specifically.
So I planted myself in front of the bird shelf in my local library, and browsed through book after book about birds, birding, bird watching, bird feeding, bird finding, and anything else about birds that anyone could think of writing a book about. Some National Geographic books with glorious colored photos, some Audubon Society books with illustrations and drawings, and some bird storybooks with more words than pictures. And I sucked them all up, greedily. I came home carrying a stack of books that I almost toppled under – twice.
I never would have considered myself greedy, but as I was toting my pile of books home from the library, the word popped into my head, and I pictured a tiny squirrel grabbing nuts with both its paws even though it already had both its cheeks bulging enormously from previous finds. I looked up the word Greed in the dictionary, and it refers to an excessive desire to possess wealth, goods, or abstract things of value with the intention to keep it to oneself. So what is it about my love of books that feels greedy? I love seeing piles of books next to my bed, all waiting to be read. Reading, or even looking forward to reading, the first page of a new book, is an anticipatory pleasure above anything else I can think of. Sometimes I don’t/can’t finish what I start – the pleasure of anticipation is sometimes more than reading itself, and I don’t have the time to read all the books I want to. But I’ve read so many books that have brought me so much wealth – a wealth of ideas, a wealth of knowledge, art, culture, taste, societies, peoples, nature, and of course birds. And the more I read, the more I want to read. If this is not greed, what is it?
But greed has a negative connotation – insinuating sin. How is it that I don’t feel sinful when I read? Even at its height, the voracious gulping and swallowing of any written word that comes my way doesn’t feel sinful. Is it because greed is not necessarily always sinful, but only when it is referred to something inappropriate? Or is greed not the right word for my love of books and reading? If I flip it to a positive word, the word god comes to mind. Is it a coincidence that they begin and end with the same letters? Probably. What are words, if they don’t prompt a feeling? Maybe the feeling I feel when I read is more godly than greedy, even if it was only about grey colored birds? So it can't be too far from the truth that if books are my god, then the library is my temple. And Saturday, my Sabbath.