By Appreciable Goodfaithpoet
I suppose that the nature of the class was bound to attract people like myself. This class would naturally appeal to people who love books. Some people seem to feel that the written word is of equal value when compared with words that we hear with our ears. I have a great love for books, and so taking the Library Studies Skills Class at Weber State University, seemed like a dream come true! However, this class held an unexpected surprise for me when we visited the rare books collection at the Library.
The instructor explained about the rare books collection and then offered to give us the opportunity to look at some of these rare books. The instructor disappeared into the back room for a time and emerged with many wonderful old books. As he mentioned the books he had selected, my excitement grew to a heart pounding level. A few moments later, I held in my hands, a very old religious text that is connected with my faith in God. I opened the old book carefully, while supporting the binding tenderly. I read one of my favorite passages from the book and tears came flooding to my eyes. I felt that I was experiencing one of the singular events of my life as I read these sacred words from so ancient a copy of this beautiful book. I looked around the room, filled with a desire to share the joy I felt. I then noticed a man who was having the very same experience, as he was reading from an old religious text of a different religion. It was apparent to me that this man was of a religion and nationality different than my own. His eyes met mine, and as we saw the tears in the other persons eyes, he said, “These are beautiful,” as he cradled a book in his hands. “Yes they are”, I agreed.
There are moments where communication does not require either written or spoken words. This was such a moment. As I looked into his eyes, I realized that this man was a good and honest man. I realized at the same time, that whatever had moved him to tears must therefore be good as well. These feelings banished any fear, suspicion or prejudice instantly from my heart. I felt a bond of brotherhood with this man that I knew very little about. I felt as though God were reaching out to both of us at the same time through different voices, which were both inspired by him. God seemed to be reaching out in the language and circumstances of our lives with a language that transcends nationality and culture.
This experience happened a long time ago. The details regarding the other students with which I took this class are gone from my memory. I remember the things that I learned from the class. I remember doing the research at the library and I remember my instructor and the skill that he displayed while teaching this class. Even so, the most poignant memory from this class will always be the things that remained unspoken, between me and this other man. I wrote the following poem to describe further the things that I felt in that moment.
By Appreciable Goodfaithpoet
Many see your dark skin
And think they know you well
Other faiths say that we sin
And are headed straight for hell
When we look in the mirror
And memorize our face
We think that we grow nearer
To learning our true place.
Yet, the longer I live upon this earth,
And the more I meet new friends
I've learned a lesson of great worth
As my suspicion ends.
I've learned, as I look in your eyes
And walk on foreign sod
I see, in you, to my surprise
The image of our God.
I’ve thought a lot about the feelings of sacred wonder that this fellow student and I shared in that moment. We both had a desire to share the joy we had received from these wonderful records. This shared experience, gave me an appreciation for the things that other people hold sacred. I gained, in that moment, a greater understanding of the fact that we are all children of the same God. As human beings, we hope and yearn for the same things. As I think back to the night we spent in the rare books collection, I remember walking out of the Library and seeing the night sky. It was a clear night and there seemed to be an endless number of stars shining in the sky. I looked up at them, breathing in the cool night air and feeling wonderfully safe and at home in this world. At that moment, I realized very powerfully that those people who hold as sacred, the written words that teach civility and morality, have ever so much in common.
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