I have something to say about the friends in this photo. Their faces make me grin, and I remember a lot of meetings, conversations, emails, and texts that have crisscrossed the time and space that separates us. We share many commonalities, but perhaps the strand that connects us first is the fact that we are all librarians. Some people will read those words and think, okay, so they all love books, so they know how to do the Dewey, but so what? I have an idea that there’s a bond that is really quite profound between us.
If you were to overlay our personalities in a 6-part Venn diagram, the place where we would all intersect is the place in our hearts that we reserve for children. Nothing and no one else can fill that space. It is what drew us to one another, and it is what makes our friendships with one another thrive and grow. The diagram reveals another intersection as well…it is our ability to picture a special future for the children in our midst. We believe in who they are, as well as who they could be. We get to practice becoming the people we are called to be…and we get to stimulate that practice in the children around us. Empowering children makes us feel powerful, and grateful.
We have a knowing between us. We choose to work with young people. We know that the children we reach have as much to teach us as we have to share with them. The school bell rings, and most folks think our students are marching through the door to learn reading, writing and arithmetic. But we see the bigger picture. We know what they’re really going to learn from us. Through our example, we attempt to teach them how to love. We can each accept that all children need this, but there is no age when those children stop needing it from us. We love in order to live well ourselves. Children who are loved well succeed at anything and everything.
I think we have a kind of envy for our young friends. Their slates are much cleaner than ours, and it seems easier to erase the mistakes. They are quick to forgive. Charles Dickens said something about what a blessing it is to realize that children, so fresh from God, love us. The slights and griefs, doubts and fears, angers and anxieties we carry with us in adulthood help to diminish and minimize the child within. Yet we understand that inside each one of us is a younger version of ourselves. Do we have the same souls at 54, 38, 57, 31 that we had as children of 8, 9, 10? I believe we do…but I believe that working with children allows us to become more illumined and enlightened about that inner being.
I feel lucky to be in the picture with these library girls. I look to my right and left, and I’m trying to imagine how I got so lucky to be friends with each one of these remarkable women.
Which led me to contemplating the idea of luck. I wondered if I searched the Word of God if I would find that He uses that word. Sometimes I’ll glibly state that I don’t believe in luck, but it’s in my vocabulary, and perhaps I better understand the word a little better before I discount its meaning or existence. I looked for synonyms—fortune, favor, happenstance. I found something quite illuminating. Is there such a thing as luck? Is it luck that puts us together, or is it Providence?
I found what I needed, along with many examples from history, in God’s word. But the bottom line is this: “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” Prov. 16:33
Luck seems like random favor or fortune, or the lack thereof. It can be randomly good or bad. Luck reeks of hopelessness in my mind. Luck relinquishes us of any responsibility. The current secular vernacular that is all around us calls god “the universe”. I hear people say that “the universe” will bring them good luck or bad luck, this or that. Really? Many folks in the world around me believe in a lower case god. That’s fine. But make mine upper case. It’s another thing I have in common with my library girls. We spell God with a capital G. Our undergirding is belief. We may describe our denominations differently, but we have a common denominator. Faith. Our relationships with Him are different; we’re at different points in our journey. That’s half the fun. We weren’t thrown together by luck; we were brought together by design. I like knowing that.
The picture was taken after we presented to several hundred fellow librarians at our annual conference, TLA. We’d all prepared well for the day; we had a lot of ideas we wanted to share with our colleagues from around the state. There was no arrogance in our midst; we all felt a little intimidated by the idea that we were sharing with a lot of experts in the room. But we got through it. So when I look at our silly moustaches, I see our collective sigh of relief. I feel gratitude to God for bringing us together, and I say a prayer of thanksgiving. Am I lucky? Maybe. My Alpha and Omega provides me with all the “luck” I could ever want or need. He gives me unmerited favor. Screw luck. He gives me grace.