In the beginning was the Word. That is what I was taught anyway. I don’t know about God, and certainly not about churches where you can find God. On my travels I do go into old, beautiful churches to feel how they can affect me. I discovered a church where you can find WORDS. Lots and lots of words, written by humans. Humans who have thoughts, humans who can imagine, humans who can tell a story that reaches other humans.
Stories can change lives. You can probably think of a story that changed your life, temporarily, maybe forever. Books changed my life. I was twelve when I fell seriously in love with books and bookstores. The nearest bookstore to my home was a modern, glass encased corner store, with shelves and shelves of books. Narrow isles to fit more books. I would sit on the floor and pick out a book, smell the new paper, run my hand over the cover, my eyes feasting on the image. The books didn’t say NO, don’t touch me. The books did not shy away and close their cover. The books let me hold them, let me feel their weight, open them and enter. Mind finding another mind. What is more sexy than that for a slow maturing teenager?
In the current western civilizations, as people read books and learn, churches are closing, people don’t believe the words preached on pulpits, don’t want to enter the world that promises a better hereafter. They want what there is to have, NOW.
I walked into a church with a big metal book sculpted outside its walls, the Dominican church in Maastricht, in Holland, and found high arches, stained glass windows, the light from above reflected in colorful images of saints. I found deep gleaming wood shelves instead of pews, and I found books, rows and rows of books. Books in languages of countries touching each other in this corner of the world. Books open for browsing, for giving that special story, that special connection that could change a life, take someone away for an evening.
The Word is still alive. People are still hungry for it. The throng of humans roaming the isles were a testimony that a church can still have a function. Immediate, NOW.
for more images of the church bookstore follow this link