Sometimes, a book comes into your life at just the right time, and this was so perfectly timed it’s untrue.
I only picked it up by a random choice when I was browsing the religion section at the library. It stuck out to me for some reason so I checked it out. And it turned out to be completely perfect for what is going on in my life right now.
Michael Mayne was a priest struck down with a seemingly mysterious illness. The doctors didn’t know what was wrong and he spent most of his days in bed, unable to summon the energy to move. Eventually, after being shunted from doctor to doctor for test after test, the doctors told him it was probably some kind of post-viral syndrome, which could clear up in days, or it could take up to a year.
This is quite similar to my dad. He’s been spending the majority of his time in bed since last August, when he suddenly lost all energy and found it extremely comfortable to sit up for any long period of time. He’s not asleep when he’s in bed, just completely lethargic – like the author. And the doctors have diagnosed ‘extreme jet lag’, one of the things that was suggested to Michael.
The first half of the book took you through Michael’s year of illness, the highs (not many) and the lows (a lot). The second half of the book is the Michael talking about how he relates this to his experience of God, and how he doesn’t lay the blame for his illness, how suffering has a higher purpose. The book was a great (and very personal) story about illness and hope, perfectly timed to give me the hope I needed.
My favourite quote from this book was:
“Nowhere is Jesus more powerful than in his passive suffering on the Cross. Nowhere does he show more clearly the truth of the passive, suffering God whose hands are tied by love.”
God knows why I didn’t do this before with the amount of books that I read, but this weekend I finally re-joined the library! I’d been a member since I was about 3 years old; so young that my library card had my mum’s signature on instead of mine! But when I was about 16, Leeds City Council introduced a Breeze card for young people and my library card was merged in with that. And since that expired when I was 19 years old, I haven’t set foot back in any of the Leeds Libraries.
But what an amazing place. Walk in, pick some books, walk out. And no cost! I expected to have to pay for a new card but the lovely lady at the desk at Pudsey library signed me back up in a jiffy. It was really hard not to walk out with an armful of books, but I managed to restrain myself to just 3. Until I journeyed to Leeds Central Library yesterday and picked another four! I don’t think I’ll ever stop reading now!
The best thing is how easy it is now to take out a book (or three). No queuing up at the desk, just set all your books on a machine, scan the barcode on your library card and the machine detects the RFID tags in each book to know what you’ve taken out and prints you a nice little receipt with the return dates on. How fabulously easy!
Plus, as confirmed on Twitter, you don’t even have to take books back to the same library you checked them out from, as long as you take them back somewhere in Leeds. So I don’t need to worry about taking books out on my lunch break in Guiseley/Yeadon or at the weekend at home in Pudsey, just take them back wherever is convenient!