To My Niece E.: A Literary Investment (the gift that keeps on giving)

I gave my niece E. a kindle reader today and told her it wasn’t just a gift, it was an investment – a gift that keeps on giving.  Then I told her this story.

Abraham Lincoln by Norman Rockwell

 

It all begins with Abe Lincoln.  You’ve heard of Abe Lincoln, right? (she nodded her head, “Yes.”)  Well, Abe Lincoln lived out in the deep woods of Kentucky and Indiana and couldn’t go to school like you or me.  But he still wanted to learn.  So he read books.  Mostly, he read the Bible, but he also read just about any good books he could get his hands on.

My wife Alice and I were married in the village of Boonville, Indiana – where Abe Lincoln had studied the law.  He didn’t go to school to become a lawyer.  Instead, he walked many miles up and down hills to get to a library where he could read law books.  He read so much and studied so hard, he was able to pass the test to become a lawyer and became a very good one.  Later, as you know, he even became President – maybe the best President our country has ever had.

Now, my story jumps forward over 100 years – to the early 1970s, when I was about your age.  Your great-great grandmother Bessie (Grandpa Veston’s mother) gave me a book about Abe Lincoln and I started reading with great interest.  I developed of passion for reading.  Grandpa Veston, Granny, and later Grandma Connie and Papaw Dan would buy me books to read – books about many different subjects.  I was able to learn a lot about God’s world and go to college, and even to graduate school to become a pastor.

Not only did reading books help me learn more about God’s world, but they became like friends for me.  In stories I read, I met people who faced hard times like I did (some much worse than I did).  I didn’t feel so much alone.  I learned more about how difficult the world can be and yet how God is still good and we can make the best of a bad situation.

When I had my own children, one of things I dearly loved to do was to read books to them or get books for them to read.  Back then, I would travel to three different libraries to get enough books to keep up with them, they read so much.  (Only I could drive a car and didn’t have to walk, like Abe Lincoln.)

Today, things are very different.  This Kindle I’m going to give you is like having about a million books at your finger tips.  (She smiled.)  Have you heard of Kindles?  (She nodded her head yes.) 

As I said, this is an investment.  Who knows?  Maybe one day you’ll grow up to be President, like Abe Lincoln.  And if you do, perhaps you could name me “Poet Laureate”  and give me an office with a leather chair, desk and computer and I could spend all day just coming up with words that make beautiful sense.

But, whatever God has in store for you, this is a good investment.  I believe you will make the most of it to make your life and the lives of those around you better.

image “Abraham Lincoln by Norman Rockwell”  Keith Hill in “These are the times that try men’s souls.” ― Thomas Paine, The American Crisis

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