Shakespeare and Co.

When I walk into a bookstore, any bookstore, I become a treasure hunter. I am looking for just the right book to treasure, at least for the moment. Sometimes the treasure is the bookstore itself. Discovering a used bookstore is, for me, like finding a new outlet mall for some I know. I try to poke around in bookstores wherever I may be traveling. My favorite kind of bookstore looks like my church office did before the great disruption, with stacks of things piled here and there.*

Dorothy and I spent a wonderful few days one April wandering the streets of Paris. After visiting Notre Dame Cathedral, before the great fire, we crossed the street and sat down for a cup of coffee at one of those outdoor cafes we had always seen in the movies. We watched the people and talked of the blessings God provides. As we started walking back toward our hotel, I spotted one of the most famous bookstores in the entire world, Shakespeare and Company. Of course, we went in it.

This discovery was like opening a treasure chest filled with gold coins and precious jewels—stacks of new and used books filling shelves, nooks and crannies everywhere. The shop is three stories tall. An old cat kept an annoyed eye on the place. People with legal pads, laptops and even portable typewriters were writing their inspired thoughts and future bestsellers. It was part avant-garde commune and part Airbnb, with cots here and there and little rooms for people to sleep—some staying for weeks. Many famous and not-so-famous writers got their start researching and writing at this bookstore. Its scandalous early years add to its mystique. And the elderly owner at the time of our visit, George Whitman, directed all the apparent chaos of a typical day in his store. Mr. Whitman died a few years ago at the age of 98. In the midst of all of his books, George Whitman hung a sign that paraphrased Hebrews 13:2Do not be inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Look for treasures (and angels.) And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

*The great disruption refers to this time in history where my eclectic pastor’s study has been turned into a neat and orderly looking video studio. Finding where things were put away is also a treasure hunt.

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