Bookcases, Lamps and Destinies

Writer Robert Benson tells a story that has grown important to me. When his paternal grandmother died, she left him “a set of three waist-high pine bookshelves my grandfather built for the last little house the two of them lived in together. A fine gift, from him to her, and from her to me.”

If I’m thinking correctly, that carpenter was music publisher John T. Benson. My family became emotionally connected to the Benson family through the music they published, the recordings they produced and the stories Bob Benson told. Some of the stories were about his son Robert, whose grown up stories we treasure.

When Bob and Peggy’s family was growing, Bob’s study was converted into a bedroom for Robert. Robert said his father left his book collection in that room. Robert read the books his father brought home and stored close to Robert’s bed.

“I still keep a small lamp lit in the central hallway of the little house where I live. It sits on the top of the shelves my grandfather built, shelves that are crammed three deep with books. But the light of the lamp illuminates a single row of books held in place between two rectangular marble bookends. The row contains a selection of my favorite books by my favorite writers, some of which are from my father’s collections. The lamp stays lit all day and all night.”

Later in the chapter entitled “Under the Influence” from Robert’s book, Dancing on the Head of a Pen, (WaterBrook, 2014) Robert says of the influential books, “I keep them under the lamp in the hallway so I can find them when I am in the dark.”

Give me a minute to catch my breath!

How fortunate that a person can point to the person(s) who taught him or her and to keep one’s self reminded of that source. I have imagined what that hallway looks like and the spotlight. In contrast, I am confronted with friends who have reams of negatives upon which they have built dysfunctional lives based on crooked words.

In recent days, I have wanted to ask those friends, “Where did you get such a crazy idea? Who told you those lies? Who made you feel that you are not enough or are shy one innate capability to accomplish your dreams or to be competent and sufficient? Why did you believe them?”

The Gospel of Jesus is the antidote to the darkness. How dynamic and relevant Psalm 103—“He forgives all my sin and heals all my diseases.” Iniquities are to be broken and healed. They are the destructive bent within that we have received through family influence or words we chose to agree with—lies that become structural beams. The family of God has tools to replace the corrupt beams and straighten the trajectory.

“The light stays lit all day and all night.”

©2014 D. Dean Benton—

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