As before, this is a random thought that is disappearing from my Web site. I wrote it some time before 2003-03-06.
A book, some have said, is like a good friend. It may comfort us, entertain us, make us think, or help us forget. Others liken books to ships, which can take us on journeys of the imagination. Books can instruct us. A book can do many things for us, but it cannot do everything.
There are empty spaces that a book simply cannot fill. A book cannot replace a child. It cannot repair a loss of innocence. It cannot heal a wound. It cannot be as precious as a loved one. Books are, for all their value as transmitters of information and wisdom, only ink and paper. Human hearts need human life, and books cannot fill this need. Humans need friends. Human minds need fellow minds to sharpen them. Human souls need mates to share their intimate thoughts and dreams. Human stories need human ears to hear them. To write a thing in a book is not the same as telling the thing to a listening spirit. Books, in certain instances, are useless. They cannot hold the aching child. They cannot brush away a tear. They cannot lift a body from danger.
Even the Bible is only a book. It is not the book which has power. It is the God whose words the book contains. It is not the book but the Word. The Bible is not the Word. The Word is Jesus. A book is leaves of paper, completely useless to one who cannot read it or to one who does not understand the language of the book. Books, magnificent as they are for teaching, fall all too short in some places.
A book is not a ladder. A book is not a rope. A book is not a shelter. A book is not a hope. A book is not a shovel. A book is not a shield. A book is not a fire. A book is not a harvest field. A book is not a thousand things. A book is not a gun. A book is not a daughter. A book is not a son. A book is not a purpose. A book is not a place to run. A book is neither one that loves nor a beloved one.
A book is a book. It may carry things: pages, photos, memories, notes, ribbons. It may be special because it was once held and read and enjoyed by a special person. It may still have lingering on its pages and in its bindings the scent of one we loved very dearly. It may be a reminder. It may be a message left behind. It may be filled with many things, but there is one thing it can never contain.
It can never contain the person lost. Books do not know how.