The Post – God’s Synchronicity, Even At the Book Return Counter

Books. They are my life. I buy them over clothes. If I didn’t need clothes, I’d only buy books.

Sometimes, I even buy the same book twice. That’s when I know I really liked a book or that it really is valuable, because I’ll buy it the second time impressed by something about it, even as I forget I already have it at home.

I had another one of those moments last night when I picked up a book on the clearance table at Barnes and Noble. I got home and found, I already had it. Now in my defense, this book had a different cover and different publisher – one of their reprint books – so it wasn’t until I got home and compared it to the reference book already on my shelf, that I realized it was the same book.

Hence, a trip back this morning to get my money back. Just as well, I figured. “Allowance money” is precious and maybe just as well to retrieve that allowance if only to have a little extra cash in the wallet. Now that of course, holds true as long as I can make it out of Barnes and Noble without buying anything else with the returned money. But I was determined. I got my cash, and turned, never even venturing into the store, just walked straight ahead.

Only about 10 yards from the door, my eye returned to this month’s Vanity Fair magazine on the stand by the register – Robert Kennedy on the cover. I had to stop. I was only 13 when he was shot and killed, but it tore my heart up. I should note it was not a “crush” kind of thing, but more this sense of despair and fear for the world because someone we needed, someone that maybe could mend this violent broken country, was taken.

Yes, I know. As a young man, he was also a brash, arrogant, condescending man who made enemies by the barrelful, and wasn’t necessarily interested in Civil Rights or other lofty things. But there was the Bobby Kennedy, the one after Nov 22 1963. The heartbroken, anguished, sorrowful man who I suspect never quite recovered from his brother’s death. The man who walked through the ghettos and maybe had a more open heart to the suffering of others, because of his own. The man who could walk into the middle of angry crowds the night Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, a rare white man in the crowd, who spoke to the crowd, not as a politician, but as a human being who knew pain, who had lost someone he loved, and so, a human being who understood rage, fear, confusion and despair.

I saw a newsclip recently of an interview he did with Dick Cavett and I was awed and appalled. Awed because I never realized at 13, but did at 52, what a soft-spoken, dignified, eloquent, intelligent, and soulful speaker he was. How dignified, intellectual, and introspective their discourse was. And I was appalled because today when you hear an interview with a politician, it’s usually a sound bite, and has a harshness and …almost crass quality to it, that was absent in that earlier conversation. I don’t know what he’d feel today if he watched our news.

So flooded with all these emotions, that still very strong sense of loss and despair that I remembered as I rode my bike for hours on those June days in 1968, I bought Vanity Fair. I still had some money left as I turned to walk out the door. Had a nice interchange with the lady behind the counter, then strode quicker this time, toward that door.

Six yards from the door, my eye caught a tiny little book on a rack: Magnetic Wisdom – Love is Patient, Love is Kind: The Book of Devotion, by Jessica Callahan

I immediately noted that that seemed like one of those soulful things I always love to pick up, often find useful in my life, sometimes can help others with, and frequently find things in them to blog about. But no, I was going to walk out that door with that remaining allowance money in my pocket.

Four yards from the door, I halted. So, the Universe maybe put something there I was supposed to use…a synchronicity moment, and …I was going to turn my back on the Universe’s request so I could hang onto my allowance money for…. ? For what?

At those moments, I know that familiar tug in my gut. That place inside of me where I know I am being called. I heard the request. Without another fight, I turned and picked up the book. I thought, okay, just a bunch of mushy love quotes. I’ll flip through this, prove it’s fluff and not useful, and leave.

The very first quote finished me off:

“I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and incur the abhorrence of myself.” Frederick Douglass – abolitionist.

That had such power….I just knew I was being asked to share it. Still resisting, but recognizing a greater force was at work, I walked slowly back to the woman at the register. Just before I handed it to her I turned it over. If I had any doubt I was to get the book, there was Mother Teresa on the back cover:

“Spread love everywhere you go…Be the living expression of God’s kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting.”

I surrendered. This book obviously had soul and substance. Even if I was the only one to benefit or hear it, I knew I needed it.

As I handed it to the lady behind the counter, for whatever reason, I felt compelled to share the Frederick Douglass quote with her. I don’t think it was because she was Black and so was he, I think it was her eyes, her age, close to my own, something that just said, share it with her…she would like it. So I pointed it out to her.

She stopped dead and read slowly. I could see her drinking in the words, soaking them up. She looked at me and said, “I believe there are no coincidences in life. I believe that everything happens for a reason. You were supposed to share this with me.”

I couldn’t even respond. I stared at her and could feel my mouth drop open. I mean, I believe those things too, but something about seeing one of those moments unfold so totally bluntly in front of your eyes makes the hair on the back of your head stand up. If you ever need proof that God still exists and still speaks through us, just have one of those moments. You’ll never doubt it again.

I watched her as she struggled to memorize it. I said, “write it down, I’m not in a hurry.” At first she resisted, saying she could remember it. Then she stopped and said, ‘Is there another one of these books there?” Unfortunately there wasn’t, but I reminded her she had the ISBN. She’d had to look it up to get the price for me. She nodded and then she stopped again. Picking up a pen she asked if I minded…said maybe she wouldn’t remember it after all, and she needed to remember it. So she wrote it down. And said she would get herself a copy.

When I pointed to the Mother Teresa quote, she almost stopped again, then just shook her head and said, “yes, I have to buy this.”

So, I was unable to walk out of the store with my allowance money intact. I couldn’t make it past those front racks. But frankly, I wasn’t supposed to. In fact, I wouldn’t have put it past God to prompt me last night to notice that book that I bought, then realized I had to return. THAT was how He got me back in the store this morning…to see Bobby Kennedy’s anguished face staring out from the newstand…to see “Love is Patient, Love is Kind.”

When one of those moments hits you, that nagging undeniable quiet voice from within, my only suggestion is – listen to the voice, forget the allowance.

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2 Responses to “The Post – God’s Synchronicity, Even At the Book Return Counter”

  1. Dana Says:

    I really enjoyed your post. I, too spend alot of time at barnes and Noble. I feel the same way about books, and finding the right one when you need it. I picked up abook yesterday in an Anthropologie store of all places. I had never been there before, and didn’t know they had books scattered about, I thought it was unusual. But the book was “it’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be”, and I can’t remember the author, but same instance. I could open to passages in thtat book that were just full of things so appropriate to me now. I truly believe we are guided in this way. Especially since you and I enjoy books so much, that is where we are likely to receive messages. Have you ever picked up a book you have been reading and swear that what you are reading was printed right before you picked it up? I mean, what you read addresses that exact issue you have been wrestling with that day? Isn’t it amazing. Well, I enjoyed your post and will read more! Thank You

  2. debrabailey Says:

    Thank you so much for your kind posting and for taking the time to respond. I appreciate your thoughts.

    Re picking up a book and feeling it was printed right before I picked it up, no, I haven’t had that feeling, but I have MANY times felt that the page I open to at random, is in fact often NOT random. I feel like if I was brought to that book, some force is also bringing me to a certain page or passage. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve opened to a passage that was just so absolutely dead-on right for whatever was happening at the moment, that it is eerie. So, something about those books and passages are most likely the way we do receive our messages in life.

    Thanks again!

    Deb

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