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Today I Went to a Bookmine

Today I went to a bookmine.

Not a bookstore, a bookmine. 

The difference between a bookstore and a bookmine is simple. A bookstore is an organized curated collection of books, new and old, where you will recognize titles from the New York Times’ Best Sellers list and what you would see in an airport. 

A bookmine is an adventure!

In a bookmine, there will be these books, too, but you may have to hunt for them. While you are searching you will also see vintage maps and atlases, historic collections of first and second publications, and even versions of the classics like “The Brothers Grimm” available in every year they were printed. 

It feels like a used bookstore at first, with broken spines lining the shelves, but as you dive deeper into the crevices and caves that make up this mine, something more begins to appear. It is not just a space of recycled books; the shelves breathe the books, the authors, and the previous readers. You may pick up a book and suddenly feel connected to the paper knowing that the words in front of you are profound enough to have been found by you at that moment, demanding to be read. After all, while there is some organization to a bookmine, it is not neat and tidy like a bookstore. It is not orderly. It is chaotic.

New life emerges from chaos, always. Or perhaps for these books, some of which are centuries old, renewed life emerges from this chaos into the hands of today’s reader. 

Visiting a bookmine invites the shopper to experience the magic of getting a wand in the Harry Potter series. Wandmaker Olivander iconically says, “The wand chooses the wizard.” This is true of a bookmine, too; the book chooses the reader. You may approach wanting something specific in mind – a genre, a topic, or an author – but somehow you leave with the books that want to be read by you. 

Such is the mystery of the bookmine. 

The book that spoke to me today did not demand to be read so much as invited me to read it. The title whispered, “Don’t you think it’s time we got together?” This book was “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers, one of the most well-known devotional books in modern Christianity. Although I have heard of this book and read reflections from it many times, it spoke to me anew in the magic of the bookmine. 

So I began to dig into the shelf that housed this devotional – a full one dedicated to various editions of this book. There were hardcovers, paperbacks, pocket sizes, and large prints. One cover page was a vibrant green, another was a leatherbound salmon pink. Each book contained the same reflections, calling the reader to the same intimacy with God. But the formatting of the books each spoke to me differently. I picked one up and felt peace. 

Just as a coal miner leaves his cave covered in dirt and emerges back into the world from the dark secret spaces beneath him, so I also emerged from the bookmine. Covered in the smell of musty old paper and ink, like a library but with more mystery and less taxpayer dollars. Entering back into the world having found something beautiful among the mundane. 

Again, finding new life from chaos.

I am convinced the magic we love in stories like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and the like exist in real life, in places like this bookmine. I am convinced the magic is not as mystical as we may like to think when we read these stories. Instead, it is the magic that is found when chaos becomes order. It is the magic that the chaotic pieces of our lives, when placed in the right hands, can be put together and made into new beauty. 

This magic exists every day in the life of the believer in Jesus, the Word who became flesh. It appears as peace amid anxiety, as wisdom among confusion, and as healing alongside pain. This magic is the redemptive work of God in the small moments of our daily lives. It is beyond us and above us, yet accessible to us and felt by us. It is other-wordly, ethereal, and also available to each person, even right now. It is in our spirits and our souls, should we choose to inhabit them along with our bodies. This is Holy Spirit magic.

Today I went to a bookmine; a magical bookmine. 

I embraced the magic of words and the Word, and found peace.

Thanks for making this a part of your day!
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