Monday, 17 January 2011

That Library

"All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated. God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God's hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another."

Something made me think of this - the last line, at least. It's from Donne's 'no man is an island' sermon. I think of it often when I'm in a library, especially the Bodleian, which owns a copy of every book published in the UK, and has done since 1610. According to trusty Google, they have more than 11 million books; they get 1000 new items every working day. Can you even begin to imagine how many books that is? I can't. And if I choose to, I can go and read any one of them, but I could never read - never even begin to hope to read - even a tiny fraction of what there is. I like books, and find them fascinating, and so it's a bit depressing to think about all the books I'll never read; but I find people even more fascinating, and so it's even more depressing to think about all the people I will never understand.

This sermon just gives me a little hope that 'never' only means 'not in this world'.

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