Just Put the Books Away, Wendy….

Ever feel like life suddenly kicked you in the stomach? Yes, of course you have. We all have.

A friend of mine who, ironically enough, isĀ  the director of a cancer center securing services for patients in rural Virginia, has cancer. She and I just finished doing a project together, one that made us both proud. We took six cancer patients into three different regional communities to let them tell the personal stories of their cancer journeys.

Leigh Ann will be making that all-too-personal journey herself, now.

So I walk through my bookstore, picking up boxes that have been sitting around waiting for someone to put them away. Shelving books is a calming activity, like playing intellectual solitaire with your whole body. Your feet walk, your brain processes, your hands move, tuck, tidy.

This in my hand is a mystery. It goes in the mystery room. A western. It goes to the mancave, under Guys with Big Guns. Ah, a history book; these are subcategorized by time period.

Keep walking, and put the books away, Wendy. The world is a random place and everything doesn’t happen for a reason. But when unreasonable things happen, God can make reason out of them. That’s what you know. That’s what being a Christian involves.

Leigh Ann is in God’s hands; these books are in yours. Put the books away, and say your prayers. Order is restored to a tilting universe by the simple daily acts of faith: the many, many people who are praying for Leigh Ann, her husband and her six-year-old daughter; and the hands of all the people who love her, moving through the day, making bread, pulling weeds, shelving books.

Work is prayer. Put the books away, Wendy. Keep order in your tiny corner of the world, and let God create Order in the big, wide, scary one.

Love, Cancer, Gas Money

February is short and cold and pushes the hearts-n-cupids love agenda–probably to keep us all from killing each other, given its dark icy muddiness.

Maybe the only thing worse than February by itself is February when you or someone you love is sick, and frightened. That’s why the bookshop is helping out Mountain Laurel Cancer Coalition. Mt. Laurel runs the Ruben Lovell Memorial Fund–named in honor of a lad whose personal fight ended in leaving us. The fund offers gas cards in the amounts of $35 and $50 to people who have to travel for chemo or diagnosis.

We all know that cancer is a curse visited more on SW VA than most places, and you can argue tobacco, mine runoff, lifestyle and the rest until the chickens leave their roosts in search of safer ones, but the fact remains that we have a LOT of people in the area who don’t have insurance but do have the big C.

They should be able to get the care they need to get better or die with comfort and dignity. Mt. Laurel’s Lovell fund has been seeing to that, quietly and competently, for several years now under the direction of Leigh Ann Bolinskey (nee Kennedy; yeah, she’s a hometown girl). And in 2012, their card requests went from about 200 to 300. And they didn’t have the money. So now they’re roughly $1000 down.

Tales of the Lonesome Pine (and a whole lot of other community members in this region) would like to see that go the other way. So for the month of February, when you buy romances from the LUV SHACK here, we will donate 100% of the purchase price to the Lovell fund. Romances are 50 cents paperback, 3 for $1, value boxes for $5. Hardbacks $2. With any luck, we can empty the shed of its 3,000 or so tomes and fill the coffers of Mt. Laurel Cancer Coalition’s Lovell fund. That’s what we’d all call a win-win.

It’s also what we’d call real love, and maybe a little light dawning in the cold scary dark.