Friday, June 15, 2012

Father Stories

Atticus Finch. What a father. Even as a child I admired him deeply after meeting him in the pages of To Kill a Mockingbird. Quiet, resolute, insightful, his battle for justice for the oppressed was awe inspiring. Scout learned the most valuable lessons in life about loving your neighbor as yourself under his gentle management, how to conquer fears, control anger, sacrifice for the ungrateful. Observing his manner of life, she received priceless lessons in loyalty and respect for those shunned by society. And he taught her to read, even though the schoolteacher didn’t like it a bit.

In preparing for a presentation I made at the Childlight USA conference last weekend, I spent some time pondering how I became a book lover. I had to give credit to my father, who lined his den with shelves of books, spent his relaxation time with a book, and read to me. I still hear his voice when someone mentions Little Men, Where the Red Fern Grows, or Mary Poppins. He worked long, hard hours, but could always be prevailed upon to “read another chapter.” It was he, along with my mother and other parents in our city, who worked tirelessly to institute a program for the blind in the public school so that we didn’t have to board far away at the state school for the blind. The day my first “talking book machine” arrived at our home when I was six years old (recorded books were not commonplace back then), he was more tickled than I was, in fact, stayed up for hours after I had gone to bed to listen to the rest of the book, the Call of the Wild.

By the time I trotted off to school, the pump was well primed and I was chomping at the bit to learn to read. At night, I remember him hollering at me to quit reading and go to sleep; I thought I was cool for not needing a flashlight under the covers, but he could hear my fingers swishing on the pages of my Braille books. I knew he wasn’t really mad because I could hear him laughing over it. To this day, we talk books and he has even gotten involved in hunting down the old treasures we promote here to add to our library’s collection. What a
dad.

I am thrilled to be collecting these old and precious books. I wonder how many children in our library are sneak-reading after bedtime. It delights me to be providing them with the living books I enjoyed myself. My childhood library was across the state and I had to mail books back and forth. Today I only own three books in Braille, but I own the best, the only truly living book. My Bible takes up five feet of shelf space, but is my source of life. It is incredible to me that His story has been given to us and that we can know who He is and who we are when we feast on His words, that our Heavenly Father has chosen to communicate with us this way. Jesus, himself called “The Word,” said, man shall not live on bread alone, but by every word that
proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Mt. 4:4) King David said, “your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Ps. 119:105) I delight to be his child, to be given this most treasured book, and He even opens
my eyes to see Him in it. What a Father!

For the joy of reading,

Liz

2 comments:

  1. Love this post, Liz. This is the kind of attitude toward words and books that I hope to cultivate in my children.

    While I'm here, do you know if there will be audio of this year's Childlight USA conference available?

    God bless...

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    Replies
    1. Pam,

      Thanks for your encouragement. I recommend you periodically check the Childlight website (www.childlightusa.org) for announcements of what they are making available. You can also link to past conference presentations there.

      Keep up the good work with your children.

      Liz

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