Wednesday, August 2, 2017

27 Books? 27 Acts of Faith, Hope, and Love

A confession: I really loved the movie 27 Dresses. Jen and I have watched it twice. (Okay, three times.) I'm a sucker for romantic comedies--so much so that once, my four brothers and I all wanted to hang out together and catch up on life in our different worlds. So, what did we do? We went to see The Wedding Planner when it was in theaters.

Five guys saying, "Excuse me" as they walked around a variety of couples out on their first or second dates.

(And we loved the movie.)

But tonight, Jen and I witnessed something far more spectacular than a solid romantic comedy. We told our two sons, Tyler and Ben, that they could have a little extra Brother to Brother Reading Time tonight. They responded with giddiness and proceeded to their bedroom to choose their books.

Jen and I proceeded to ours to sit and talk together after a day's journey hike at the Broad Meadow Brook Conservation Area in Worcester, MA, and a spontaneous stop at an incredible local bookstore, Enchanted Passage, in Sutton. (Keep active and busy as we wait for baby number 3 to arrive is our mantra each day).

Brother to Brother Reading Time began, and continued, and continued, and...

After an hour, Jen and I realized that it was almost 10 pm, and bedtime had long since passed. As we entered they room, we saw a massive stack of books, and Tyler was delighted to show us the mountain.

Ben said, "We read A LOT of books!"

Tyler proceeded to count every single volume, and the tally? 27 books.

There's a lot said about books being sources of hope in dark times--about books being acts of resistance against fear and cruelty, and books serving to light the way for our feet when the path ahead seems treacherous and unknown.

And I believe in all of it.

I believe in the power of books to change lives because it has happened in my life over and over again--at every stage of my growth. The most recent volume to grab make my heart swell and my mind focus is Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson--a nonfiction account of one lawyer's quest to seek justice for the wrongfully accused and for children serving life sentences for unequal crimes, sentencing when they were young and locked away because of a society that values wealth more than it values love.

Back when I was in the third grade, I remember reading a book called Luke Was There by Eleanor Clymer, and I clutched that book to my chest and took it to bed with me at night and cried with it and believed in it and loved it. It's the story of a young boy, Julius, struggling as his stepdad leaves home and his mom becomes seriously ill. Julius is put into a group home, and he believes that no one cares for him; life is completely hopeless. Enter a Big Brother of sorts--an African-American volunteer named Luke--who helps Julius see that love is possible, and that some people can be trusted.

Man. When I see the cover of that book, my heart still beats fast.

So, yes: I believe that books can change lives, help us see and feel and believe and hope things we might otherwise never have known.

And tonight, when Jen and I walked into our sons' bedroom and saw that stack of 27 books, my heart swelled. That's 27 acts of faith; 27 chances for connection, and compassion, and laughter, and hope.

And love.