Words are all I’ve ever written, read, or spoken. Yet when I need them most, they often flee. I keep pages and pages of words on the shelves in my room, because I connect with them more deeply than I connect with people sometimes. But it’s never just the words that resonate with me. It’s all about the truth that I encounter when reading them, a truth that goes deeper than what I experience in the real world. My relationship with that truth is just like one with an actual person.

The reader and writer have a unique bond that cannot be shared in any other form of art or communication. A reader usually reads in the quiet, in his own space and time. More often than not, an author speaks to an audience of one. There is no need for a mediator between words and people. Words are the mediator between the writer and reader. Sometimes the message cuts directly to the core of our being, and sometimes they’re just dull and empty.

As insignificant, inconsistent, hurtful and tedious as they may seem to people sometimes, God still uses words – namely, the Bible – to reach out to humanity. Why does He use this medium to connect with us? Why did Christ call himself something so potent as “the Life,” yet something as simple as “the Word?” So often words fall flat, have no substance. They’re often what we use to make false promises. We talk all day long about how things ought to be, then real life usually crushes our words.

Yet God’s word has lasted for millennia. Bible stories have crossed cultures, endured the fall of empires, and changed hearts. When written well, books follow in the legacy of the Bible. Some historians may dispute it, but the Bible was, in fact, the first book, hence its name which actually means “book” in Greek.

A book’s neatly bound pages, the feel of the cover, and even the scent of dust and mothballs accumulated from years on the shelf, in my opinion are all symbols of wisdom. A book is a physical representation of humanity and civilization. As John Milton said, “... he who destroys a good book kills reason itself.”  When I walk into a library, the great thinkers that surround me remind me of how much larger than life they were, how much greater than I they were. Even the ones I disagree with can’t simply be ignored, because they surround and tower over me. The great number of shelves in a library – which may seem cumbersome by today’s standards –  serve as reminders of the countless ways the books that fill them impacted the world, for better or worse.

So words, books and libraries may not be as cherished as they used to be, but I’d argue that they have become an inseparable part of us. I hope more people begin to remember that when they have a free evening and are faced with the decision to either watch TV, go on the computer or read a book.  

Kilby is a long-standing freelance writer for The Monitor and editor of Rambling Spirit magazine. He is a parishioner in St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Yardville.