I make my way to my little corner sectioned off in the dining room as how I’ve been doing for the past decade or so. It’s been about a week now, but I catch myself grumbling at how the chair doesn’t feel as right anymore. This new one doesn’t roll like the old one used to — before my sis managed to find a way to render it retired by dislodging the entire back-rest from its base. To my left are three DIY shelves that I managed to convince my family members to let out of wherever-they-once-were, and have them arranged side-by-side, facing me in glorious presentation of what they are holding. Sitting here are the books I have been collecting as far as I’ve came across ones that are worth reading, and there are such wonderful books in it that I expect people to tremble with excitement just as I still do each time I thumb my fingers through them. Here is where a great part of my growing up is held, my haven and sanctuary, the place of my wonder and wondering. Here I meet the people that had taught me things I never knew I didn’t know about myself, and the people who watched me grow through the years as I watch them never tire of making different emphasises of the same old story to me, over and over again. My teachers, my confidants, my spiritual guides that seem to know me better than I do myself, and friends whose lives I reminisce with where hearing them speak is like finding a part of myself I’ve only just remembered to miss.
In my little corner tonight, all is still and quiet. G.K. Chesterton sits silently, colossal in his pince-nez. Anne Dillard stares back at me from the pages of Tinker Creek, reposed and composed besides the resting John Donne. Oscar Wilde isn’t out flaunting his pompous prose but remains speechless. Philip Yancey is not saying anything, and neither is Elisabeth Elliot nor Brother Lawrence. Solzhenitsyn, Dostoevsky and Amitav Ghosh are all holding their tongues, and there is not a cheep out of Frederick Buechner, Endo Shusaku or C.S. Lewis. Even Flannery O’ Connor seems to be waiting for something. The air feels heavy with the silence they are keeping as I drew a decided breath. Though the silence is all there is, it is not a sterile silence but a pregnant one, for even in the silence the company of friends are always present. What would I have been if I had never heard them break it? What moments would I have let escape unnoticed if I hadn’t had their eyes to see it through? What part of myself would remain buried and hidden if they had shied from pointing it out? And yet tonight they sit modest, watching me patiently as do wise parents of an equally restless child — impatient to grow up to perhaps be just like them in some way or another, yet waiting for me to call upon them when I should need to. In the stillness of the night, they give me room to be myself, room to grow as how growth has been the past years with them.
I thumb my fingers through the collars and titles, recounting to myself the moments that each book had once defined in my life, many of which contributing to the context of watershed moments in my faith through tears that I had since found the heart to shed. I’m thankful for the writers that have came into my life one way or another, where the make-believe world they conjure through the careful herding of words provided that temporary hiding place for the heart that’s starting to grow indifferent to mystery, for the soul that’s seeking a safe space to be alive with itself. And I’m thankful for the silent moments of reflection beyond the pressed pages trailing on the far side of reality, where we meet ourselves beyond where words alone could have taken us, while the rest of the cast sits on waiting, quietly.