Books, Given and Taken

As a teenager, I raided my father’s bookshelves, skipping over that dull-looking Leviathan for the far more tantalizing Huckleberry Finn, Henry Miller, and Alan Watts. Looking back now, I think, What better could I have read?

Recently, my daughter opened an envelope with a book my father mailed me, Zen Art for Meditation. She looked at this little book, and asked if I was really, truly going to read it.

I answered, With great pleasure, and, with almost a crazy kind of happiness I’m reading this slim volume in these early, autumn mornings. Mystified, my child asks what’s in the book. Mountains, I answer. RiversThings we love. But the book is also full of Huck Finn’s raft, Miller’s restlessness, and Watts’ cloud-wreathed peaks. In haiku’s odd sense of timelessness, I might be a teenager again, reading these lines, rather than a grown woman, or, perhaps, simultaneously both. And I didn’t even have to steal this book.

The salt of the sea is in our blood; the calcium of the rocks is in our bones; the genes of ten thousand generations of stalwart progenitors are in our cells. The sun shines and we smile. The winds rage and we bend before them. The blossoms open and we rejoice. Earth is our long home.

– Stewart Holmes and Chimyo Horioka, Zen Art for Meditation

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Hardwick, Vermont