More than 25 of my many years were spent in school. In those years I read, accumulated, and appreciated many books. I came to regard those books as friends. They met my needs many times. We became so familiar I could recognize them on the shelf while sitting at my desk several feet away.
In 1998, I realized the enormity of my attachment to my books. We moved to a new home; the house had no place for my books. It took some time, but I was finally able to build bookshelves. As I took the books from the boxes and placed them on the shelves, I had mixed feelings.
It was like meeting old friends. I would recognize the book; then memories about it would flood my mind, some good and some bad. I felt sad for having neglected them. I recalled how often I had missed and needed them while they were boxed out of reach.
We have moved again, and downsized. I have less room for books. Many are not only boxed but are resting in a storage facility miles away.
When I was young, I dreamed of having a valuable library. Now that I need to dispose of books, I find old books have little value. The local library will take them, put some on their shelves, and offer others to the public at bargain prices. There is some consolation in that process.
Think about your friends — not your book friends but your people friends. Like expensive books, friends require significant investment of yourself. The writer of Proverbs said it this way: “If a man would have friends, he must show himself friendly” (Prov. 18:24). Unlike my books, however, friends grow more valuable with time.
Again like books, friends get put away by time, distance, and even death. I have reached the age when many of my friends are dying. Hardly a week goes by that I do not receive word of a friend’s passing. It’s a little like leaving your books at the library to see them no more, only much more painful.
Age and distance make maintaining friends difficult. Many of my friendships were formed in churches where I served. Maintaining those relationships can be complicated. Too much of the former pastor can be problematic for a church.
One final comparison of books and friends: At this stage of my life, I have less room for books, but I will keep as many as I can. Likewise, I have less time for my friends, but I will keep as many as I can as long as I can.