So, I just finished a book that clocks in at 249 pages and it took me three months to finish it. No, it wasn’t written in another language. It was in clear, easy to read English with a nice sized font that was easy on the eyes. The problem wasn’t that the content was boring. On the contrary, it was highly engaging.
So why then did take me so long to finish this book?
The answer probably lies and why it took me so long to actually pick up the book. I’m pretty sure that I had been given it as a gift several years ago and being a voracious reader, I tend to quickly read the books that I received as gifts. This book, however, was different. It was incredibly close to home and required the right frame of mind to be able to move through the text.
When you begin to read a book, it can have the ability to trigger old memories that might be loosely connected to the topic or events covered in the book. Good books can summon strong emotions and deeply impact you. This is why I’ve spent the last six years avoiding reading Mitch Albom’s Have a Little Faith. I wasn’t in the right place or in the right frame of mind to pick up a story about the writing of the eulogy from my childhood rabbi.
I’m not sure what compelled me to pick the book up off the bookcase. I know that I had been afraid of reading about the loss of someone who helped shape my connection to Judaism and was present at two of the most meaningful Jewish events in my life, my bar mitzvah and my wedding. Somehow though, in the quiet of the synagogue on Saturday mornings leading up to the High Holidays, it was time.
As I read Albom’s reverent prose about Rabbi Lewis, I saw my own experiences growing up mirrored in Albom’s reflections. I learned more about the man behind the rabbi that I measure all other rabbis against. I had the opportunity to another’s words to relive the impact that another human being had on me.
Even so, I approached the end of the book with dread. I knew what was coming. It was my own past. I just didn’t want to relive the loss again. Perhaps it was fitting that I read the book’s final chapters as I heard the calming tones of prayer on Yom Kippur afternoon. The mood of the day helped me read with respect, reverence, and awe.
Sometimes, a book is long because of the number of pages. Sometimes, it is long because of the journey it takes you on.