It had been at least ten years since Charlotte had been in a library. Her disability was a large part of the reason why; but the introduction of tons of information on the Internet was also part of it. Books were readily available: to read, to purchase, to research.
Then a friend phoned and offered to take her along on a visit to the library at the local University. That spoke to Charlotte: she had missed being in libraries—the visual pleasure of rows upon rows of readable material; the scents of paper, leather, wood, polishes, and years of people traffic. She also was quite fond of learning institutions. How could she pass up this offer?
Truth was, she couldn’t, no matter the difficulties she’d experience preparing for going out, and the trip itself. In addition to being disabled—a large portion of which had to do with a systemic fatigue which meant it would take quite some time to recuperate from an outing—Charlotte was in her mid-60s by now, and while still feeling in her mid-30s (you’re only as old at you feel, right?), age was taking its toll.
“Charlotte?” It was Janet. “I’m on my way—you ready?”
Charlotte’s heart leaped. “Yeah, I’ll be outside!” Excitement was evident in her voice; she was even counting on that adrenaline to keep her energy up until she got back home and could collapse.
The library was, in every respect, worth the trip. The instant she was through the door, Charlotte breathed in that delicious aroma, her eyes drinking in the sights, her ears adjusting to the special hush found only in libraries. She and Janet parted ways to explore their own interests.
Charlotte headed for the Religions. She had promised herself she would check some Bible commentaries and other books on Jewish history.
She had already done some research into which books she wanted to peruse, and so headed for the appropriate stacks, finding the row she wanted, and turning her chair into it, glad no one was blocking her way. Grateful that the books she wanted were at an easy height to grab, she settled down at a table to read, a stack of books at her elbow and her notebook in front of her. Before long she was lost in history.
“There’s a book missing.”
She looked up, expecting to see a familiar face (although she wasn’t able to put a face to the voice: male, neither high-pitched nor deep, but soft and somehow familiar). Just two women at the other end of the table.
She was momentarily frightened, even on the verge of tears.
“Where is your book, Charlotte?” the voice continued.
Dear Lord, she prayed silently. What’s going on?
“You have a book inside you, Charlotte. Don’t be afraid. You’ve been wanting to write it for years. I want you to write it. The world is missing your book.”
The voice was as real to her as if Janet had returned to speak with her.
Now wait a minute—I don’t do audible God!
She looked at the other two people; they didn’t appear to have heard or seen anything out of the ordinary.
And then, a Presence. Strong, comforting, and very familiar. But not willing to let Charlotte go on what appeared to be a very important point.
She thought of scriptures which told of those whose “hearts stirred within them” when Jesus was present, and realized that there was a communication going on that she couldn’t deny.
Janet found Charlotte with her forehead resting on her hand, tears streaming down her face.
“Char, are you okay?” Charlotte started at the very human voice which interrupted her inner thoughts. She looked up to find she and Janet were alone now at the table, and was grateful.
“I’m fine,” she assured her friend. “If you’re ready to go, I am. I’ll tell you about this in the car.”
And on the trip home Charlotte confided to her friend, first that she had wanted for years to write of her spiritual journey, full of triumphs and tragedies, but that she had been fearful of beginning, not wanting to fail. Not omitting a thing, she related her library experience.
“You probably think I’m nuts, Jan.”
“Nope. I know God, too, you know. Just tell me how I can help you get your book done.”
The presence of God was strong in the car as the two friends began discussing Charlotte’s next project: the world’s missing book.
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