Books are sacred to me because stories are sacred to me, as are the people who tell them.
Whether these stories are born of imagination or experiences, they are all somehow true. And truth is sacred.
Books are sacred in the way they present a universal story in a single page. They are sacred in the way they confront our story through another’s.
Books are sacred because they can make me cry, and laugh, at myself and for others too. And all laughter and all tears are sacred.
In this way, perhaps, books are less sacred altar than sacred pilgrimage. The mountainous, lonely trek takes the pilgrim to many holy places, but the journey itself becomes the vehicle to the sacred in the traveler.
Books are not simply sacred destinations we can visit and leave again, tucking our texts back onto a dusty shelf. They are the pilgrimage itself; the stories take hold and stay with us, long after the pages are closed.
Books are sacred because they point us to ourselves – and in so doing, of course, they point us towards others too. And then, as I share my thrill in a sacred text with you, I connect to the sacred in you also – inviting you to bear witness to your own experiences of the textually Divine.
And even if I keep my thrill silent, cradling and gurgling with satisfaction close to my heart, the book has nevertheless connected us – my single page now has a story and has traveled across emotional mountains and valleys and into new landscapes of humanity… to you.
In many conversations over many years, Third Culture Kids have told me of books.
They tell me of the hiding places these books offered them – a place to go internally when the world around them became overwhelming. The characters taught, guided and explained worlds we often found more appealing than the ones in which we lived. After all, these heroes would explain to us their thoughts and motivations – an appealing scenario when we’d often find ourselves alternately confused by the social situations around us, or confusing others ourselves.
These books might have been our most stable peer group – the Secret Seven gang stayed with me while friends flew away, and The Little House on the Prairie stayed home, while others came and went. And I learnt what I wanted (or thought I wanted!) from friendships from these books too… Anne of Green Gables especially left me with a longing for a “bosom buddy” for years!
TCKs talk about the texts they read that informed them of their ‘TCKness’ with a gratitude often bordering upon reverence. These books or blogs have revealed truth to them about themselves, and connected them to a whole population which whom they can now feel a sense of belonging. They recount a universal story on a single page.
What are your sacred texts? How did these connect you – to yourself, or to others (or both!)
Please feel free to explore this page where I list books related to the Third Culture experience – you might find something special there. And if you think a book needs adding to the list – do write and let me know. I’d love to include it.