Despite the fact that we have an ever-shifting eternal library of humanity below us in our bookshop, my husband and I keep a few books in our personal space on the second floor.
Yesterday I had occasion to sit down for a few minutes and pick up two of the tomes that have graced the coffee tables in every house we’ve owned. One is called In the Company of Bears by Curtiss; the other, In Every Tiny Grain of Sand by Lindbergh.
Bears is a beautiful, tall book featuring wonderfully whimsical illustrations that make you look twice on every page. Clouds are bear-shaped; overstuffed armchairs have bear bodies in the upholstery pattern. And the words are just sweet: “When you’re sad you can sing the saddest songs/When you’re mad you can beat on the Chinese gongs.” It’s the kind of book that lets you crawl inside its pages and get your childhood back for ten minutes.
Sand is also ostensibly a book for children – no psychoanalysis please – but it’s a collection of prayers from many franchises of faith, charmingly illustrated on themes of light, dark, home, and family. Lindbergh does some lovely rewrites of famous Psalms into verse, and the Celtic prayers include “Deep Peace,” which Jack and I used at our wedding, yet my favorite in the whole book remains a tiny little prayer in a bottom right corner, by G.K. Chesterton: “The snail does the holy/ Will of God slowly.”
Maybe that’s why I love these books in the first place. They are “slow down, regroup, relax, say a prayer and have a cup of tea” books. In a world frenzied with helping other people slow down and enjoy books, these are the ones that remind me to stop and enjoy the moments of giving enjoyment. Sip ‘n smile.
That snail isn’t going any place quickly, but he is getting somewhere.