As we enter this new year, I want to take the next three weeks to make daily posts about things I am grateful for. There was an old hymn I heard growing up called “Count your blessings”. So since I believe gratitude begets blessings, (and we all could use a little more of that,) Come with me as we go on this journey of thankfulness. 

There is an old parlor question that goes something like: ” If you could have three famous people from history over for dinner, who would they be ?” Well, my list is always different every time I think of this, but with a couple of notable exceptions of some famous musicians and scientists, most of the people are writers or philosophers/religious leaders. I think this is a testament to the influence books and in particular, the written word has had on my life.

people inside building
Trinity College Library Dublin, Ireland

Reading has been the portal to many paradigm shifts in my way of thinking. The passage in Twain’s ‘ Huckleberry Finn’ where Huck says he would rather be ‘condemned to Hell’ in the mind of his community rather than turn a blind eye to the evil of slavery. really influenced me when I first read it as a child. So did books like ‘The grapes of wrath’ and ‘to kill a mockingbird’ helped me understand the importance of social justice. The words of Jesus from the Bible about how Love should be the highest law completely changed everything for me. Shakespeare and poets like Whitman, Frost, Tennyson, Rumi, and e.e. Cummings made me help understand the seeming infinite way words can create imagery. Also, Poe, Dostoevsky, Dickens, Oscar Wilde, Voltaire, C.S Lewis all have a place of honor in my bookcase.

Shakespeare and Co. Paris. Probably the world’s coolest bookstore. 

While it will never be the same as having them over for dinner. These and countless other writers and thinkers have become immortal and through the written page, (or computer screen now with the new technology). Tennyson wrote, “I am a part of all that I have met.” I would add I am also a part of all that I have read as well.

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