Joy in Stacks of Books (Nov-Dec 2002)

By Matt Dabbs

By Marge Wood
November-December 2002

I re-shelve books in an Austin, Texas, library. The work is sometimes tedious, even boring. Nevertheless, I find joy amid stacks of books.

“What are you doing up here?” I asked a disheveled looking man one day. “You’re not supposed to be here. C’mon, get in the elevator.”

“I never get in the elevator with women. They always attack me.”

Attack HIM? Huh. You’d have to hold your nose in mid-attack. He just stood there. He refused to get on the library elevator.

“Are there any stairs up here?”

I started to rebuke him and push him on the elevator, then paused. Jesus elbowed me. I decided not to “attack” him.
“The stairs are over there.”

Later, a woman, dignified and elegant with an Irish accent, walked up to me while I shelved books.
“May I help you?” I asked.

“Oh yes. Please. I have to find some photos of Hiroshima and I’ve looked everywhere,” she said.

We found what she wanted. Her name is Mary, and her life has been devoted to peace efforts. She is in charge of the peace group at her Catholic church. She invited me to a meeting of a peace group. I went. It was a new experience, listening to people express their views and experiences while working on world peace. One of the members goes to other countries to meet people and talk about peace. Mary and others spoke recently at the local chapter of United Nations Associations. I went. Jesus went there, too.

Another time in the library, I asked a colleague to tell me more about literacy. He quickly phoned his mother, who later took me to the county jail to see a literacy program in action. Many of the prisoners cannot read, but once they complete the literacy program and are released, few return to jail. Our friendship blossomed and has continued to bloom and bear fruit to this day. We talk, Anne and I, on the phone, on email, over lunch. She invited me to join the national organization, Church Women United. She is a devout Christian. She says that when my faith wavers, just act as if it is all there and it will come back in full strength some day. Jesus nodded.

“Need some help?” It was my friend Bob. I was replanting an empty flowerbed at the Central Library where I work with starts taken from the other beds. He knew his business. I watched him as he dug the holes deeper, made mounds of earth around each plant to hold the water. There was no faucet there so I brought some large soda bottles to hold water. He hid them in the large shrubs nearby. Every couple of days he would carry water in those bottles from an outdoor faucet nearby and carefully water those plants. He kept most of them alive through the summer heat. We replaced dead ones. Librarians walking by smiled. I felt Jesus smile, too.

How do I take my faith to work? I smile. I listen. I watch. I get acquainted, and then I learn, over and over. And I find joy amid stacks of books.

Contact Marge Wood othermother6@juno.com

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Marge Wood is a Christian wife, mother, grandmother. Her degree is a B.A. in art from Abilene Christian, with teacher certification. Concerned about the increasing global concerns about fuel, she has spent the last decade as an ardent volunteer advocate for energy efficiency and various forms of renewable energy. She belongs to the Texas Solar Energy Society and theTexas Renewable Energy Industries Association. She spends free time educating the public about renewable energy, presenting workshops for teachers, working on exhibits, writing articles, contacting legislators, or tending booths at conferences.

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Profile photo of Matt DabbsThis author published 1577 posts in this site.
Matt is the preaching minister at the Auburn Church of Christ in Auburn, Alabama. He and Missy have been married 12 years and are raising two wonderful boys, Jonah and Elijah. Matt is passionate about reaching and discipling young adults, small groups, and teaching. Matt is currently the editor and co-owner of Wineskins.org.

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