Thursday, May 27, 2010

God in Your Yards

dandelion in seed

This morning, up early— very, very early— the humid air reminded me of my grandmother's house. Something about the way the fragrances hung low, grass and earth and begonias just outside the door, mingling. Standing in the semi-darkness, I found Laura Boggess's first post on God in the Yard. Her words caught hold of me. Here is her beginning...

. . .

When I was a child I lived in the country. I did not know for many years that we were poor. I never understood that most folks did not live the way we did. We were happy to be tucked away, hidden from the world by the trees and the sky and the bubbling creek.

I never realized how rich that land made us until much later.

Are we in a depression?

My youngest asks me this not too long ago as we walk the streets of our suburban neighborhood.

Do you mean as a nation or as a family?

Our family…are we in a depression?

Do you mean emotionally or economically?

I quickly run through my head all the conversations his daddy and I have recently had. What has he overheard?

You know, with dad’s new job and stuff…are we not doing very well with money?

. . .

After I read Laura's post, I went back to bed. There were hours left to sleep, and I wanted to try. But her words stayed with me, and the words of some of her commenters, and the words of commenters in the past (about some of my other books). Words that remind me there are people who want to read, but books are costly.

I know this, and it is why I always donate copies to three of my local libraries. Last year, someone in Georgia got to read Stone Crossings because he received it through interlibrary loan. It traveled a whole coastline to reach him.

This morning, though, an idea began to form in my mind. What if? What if a book could be sponsored? It might allow more people to read, for a fraction of the cost, or no cost at all. Here is how I envision it working. It would be an experiment in community of course. It might not work. Still, what if?

Way 1. What if I offered to mail a copy of the book to a first responder? I could write a little note to this person. There are a few blank pages in the book just waiting for this. But the person would agree to hold the book only for a month, then pass it on, to the next responder I know about, or they find out about. In turn, they would pen a note on its pages, to the next person. Maybe, if people prefer to remain anonymous, we could write something like, "to a friend in Colorado," with the date.

When the blank pages are filled, and the book has been passed from hand to hand, I would ask that it be mailed back to me. Then we could give it away. (Oh, sure, I would like to keep it, but the spirit of this seems to suggest making a gift of it.)

I could sponsor a book in this way. But anyone else could too, handling the process similarly. We could be like a library system with a personal touch. It would mean a $5 investment to cover shipping, but that is a good $10-$15 in savings over buying it outright.

Way 2. Remember my friend in Georgia? He waited almost six months to receive Stone Crossings through the library loan program, and another blogosphere friend noticed and decided he'd buy my friend the book. This is another form of sponsorship we could offer. It's different from a giveaway, because it is specific... I want you to have this book. Even as I write this, I know who I'm going to do this for.

Laura's words this morning were like a seed, planting an idea in my mind. Our gifts could be like seeds, hopefully planting some kind of healing in each other. If you are someone who would like to receive the first drift-upon-the-wind, email me with your name and address, at llbarkat [at] yahoo [dot] com. Tell me whether or not you would like the book page signed to your name or just your state. I will send you a copy and ask that you pass it on within a month. If I receive multiple requests, I will pass the next name and address on with the book.

It could be a messy process. But I suppose farming never did come without a little dirt on the hands and feet.

Speaking of which, go on and finish reading Laura's post. You'll see what I mean about the feet when you get there...

Dandelion in Seed photo, by L.L. Barkat.

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Blogger Jessica said...

I love this idea. Love it. I too wait for books from the library. Thankfully we have a huge set of libraries in our county and so I can find to my heart's content. But I understand not being able to purchase all these books I love because it just is not practical for our family on one income.

Count me in...
ps I've been finding all sorts of things in our yard. My new obsession.

9:01 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Jessica (and others), be sure to email me with your name and address if you're interested in this sponsorship possibility. Thanks :)

9:04 AM  
Blogger Louise Gallagher said...

I love these ideas too! And I still have to get my money order off to you!!!!

My challenge isn't the buying of books. it's the organizing of getting the buying done!

I'd love to help out -- do you offer paypal? :)

9:40 AM  
Blogger Maureen said...

A marvelous idea. And no need to ask "what if"; it will work.

A fan-style (or "like" as it's now called) page could even be set up on FaceBook to track where the book goes, when it arrives, who's reading it, what readers think of it. Crowd-sourcing at its best.

Laura's post is beautifully written.

12:02 PM  
Blogger SimplyDarlene said...

What a blessed idea...

It is not a shameful place, being poor, because then one's reliance upon Him becomes more than a soul-thing (& I don't mean that to sound trivial), because for some it becomes a "can I afford to eat seconds at supper" thing.

Interconnecting one to another with a tangible object, a gift to treasure and love and then let go, will bind hearts and souls. To each other. And to Him.

I am glad God woke you in the middle of the night.


12:23 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Oh! I used #1 on a book once ... except without the return policy. Who know where it is now... I really like the idea, though. A gift re-given only grows better for touching more people.

2:36 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I think you are brilliant...and a natural at building community.

One of the things that I regret about growing up poor is the poverty of ideas; the lack of exposure to culture. My school library was a haven for me. But there was a whole world outside those doors.

I'll email you later about how I can help with this. I love it. You are giving riches :)

5:02 PM  
Blogger sarah said...

What a beautiful idea, so much the sort of thing expected from a heart like yours. I will enjoy watching from far away, over a great ocean that denies me so many books, so many experiences, because the cost of winging over it is great. A small-press book bought in America would cost three times as much to buy from here. But I have deep green mountains and white tides and I have the internet too, a little window through which I can see you.

5:03 PM  
Anonymous Lyla Lindquist said...

On that note...I am a book hoarder, often shame-faced looking at the shelves lined with books I've finished. I might read again, but what with all these new pages you folks keep cranking out, most I probably won't. Even so, I seem to unable to part with them.

That said, I do still have my marked up copy of Stone Crossings. Should you know of one who might not mind a scrawl in the margin and a bent up page, please let me know. I'll be glad (in a "please, do you have to go?" sort of way) to send it along.

10:46 AM  
Anonymous Cheryl Smith said...

What a lovely idea LL!

I so enjoyed my copy of Stone Crossings and was thinking I would hold onto it because, well, for a lot of reasons. Now I may have to send it on a tour of its own as well.

And by the way, my link is for my own Barbie post.

3:30 PM  
Blogger Bonnie said...

I love that. Indeed it sparkles with things I love of the Gospel!

3:55 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Love, love this beautiful idea and would love to participate!

7:05 AM  
Anonymous Trish said...

I LOVE this! Found you through Jessica's blog. I'd love to sponsor a book or get on the community list.

2:42 PM  

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