I don’t give away books easily. I also don’t often talk with the person beside me on the plane. On that particular day I did both.
I was flying from my home near Philadelphia to an annual December missions mobilization event near Detroit and the man beside me began a pleasant conversation with a genuine smile on his face. He was a salesman and I knew, as a mobilizer, we already had some professional things in common, but I decided to take a different approach in connecting.
“What do you enjoy creating?” I asked him, taking a risk in asking such an uncommon small talk question.
“Oh!” His whole body beamed with excitement, “I’m an artist!”
“Tell me more!” I was thankful I had asked.
“I’m a painter.” He continued on, with animated detail, that he studied colors and patterns based off the Fibonacci sequence, and how mathematics can define beauty. He drew the Fibonacci spiral on a drink napkin. He shared his thoughts and research on beauty and numbers and how the pyramids and a tree and a uterus all have the same ratio, and how you can superimpose sequence onto a color wheel and paint in such a way that draws on something deep inside the human spirit.
I held the napkin in my hands, the raw sketch on a raw canvas, and pondered what he’d been saying. We allowed a space of silence and then we spoke – marveling together about how God created order from chaos and how such beauty points to a Creator.
“How about you, what do you create?”
My soul smiled through my face as I told him about an event called Hutchmoot. I’d been to just a few months prior. I explained that I didn’t know what kind of art I would create but I felt called to do so, since we are made in the image of God, and God is a creator. I told him that I loved to write and I was learning more of what that looked for me. He listened with nods and a smile.
I clutched the book I’d been holding, the book I intended to read on this flight, my fingers still wedged between the pages. I made mention of it, marveling about the beauty that comes when artists collaborate – musicians with writers, writers with painters and so on. I told him about The Rabbit Room and encouraged him to visit the site. I shared how the music of Andrew Peterson inspired this book by Russ Ramsey and how Russ’ book was inspiring to me.
“What is the book about?”
I took my fingers from the pages and grasped it with both hands. It’s about God’s story of redemption, I recalled, coming to His people through Jesus. The details from the prophecies and stories of the Old Testament woven together toward the fulfillment of those prophesies, the climax of those stories – the birth of Jesus. Complex plots woven by a Creator of Stories, a Weaver of Tales, a Painter of Meaning.
As he listened intently, I became aware that this book was no longer mine. I soon handed the copy of the book to my fellow creator and he gratefully accepted.
I don’t give away books easily. When I read them, they become a part of me, and I ache to pass them along. This one felt different. This time, I knew that the story being told was not for me to keep.
My week in Michigan passed and soon after I arrived home to my apartment, a package came from Nashville. Inside was a new book, the very book I had parted with on an airplane just a week before. Inside the book, there on the title page, was an inscription: “For Christine, You can give this copy away too, if you need to. It is, as you know, a book about a gift. Thanks for loving people more than things. Hope has come! Russ Ramsey.”
It’s been two years and I still have that copy; I haven’t given it away quite yet. Each time I open the book, flipping to that day’s chapter, my eyes land on Russ’ writing and I’m reminded that, just as God poured His life out for us, so I am called to live my life as an offering – to pour out what I have – whether that means giving away a book, sharing a part of my story, or, occasionally, talking with the person next to me on the plane.
This year, Russ is giving away his book on Kindle until December 2. I’d love to share it with you and join you in reading the story God has been weaving throughout history as we near the time of celebration of the birth of Jesus.