Don't noises sound louder in the library?
Kids snow boots stomping on the industrial-strength carpet, fingers typing a keyboard, water dripping on the skylight above. The loudest sound, of course, is the front-door alarm that fires off when a book has not been correctly checked out. TSA doesn't have anything on our public library security.
There's something else that can be observed. After our most recent trip to our local library, I have deduced that you can always distinguish between library volunteers and the actual librarians (with a statistical accuracy of 2-0).
The volunteers seem to always be attached to squeaky carts and plastic gloves. (What are those gloves for anyways? Do plastic gloves keep the books cleaner? Because if so, they should raise my library fines, for I'm pretty sure the books we return are nothing but clean...On second thought, perhaps we are the reason they wear the gloves...)
And the volunteers groan. I'm still pondering why they do this. Either the volunteers are given the hardest jobs (thus the emission of various moans), or they are not used to the hard work, or they have really old muscles and bones, or they hate their tasks. One time, when I forgot my library card and admitted it to a nearby volunteer, I'm pretty sure his moan broke the library Quiet Voices Rule. He had to peel off his plastic gloves (Shhlewp! Shhlewp! So loud!) and actually touch my driver's license, poor man.
But I so appreciate the volunteers, even the ones whom I suspect are there for community service hours.
Just yesterday, as we were digging through the pictures books in section P, I heard the squeak of a rolling cart coming closer, then it stopped. Before I could gather my children, books, car keys, library card, purse, and library book list, the library volunteer asked if she could squeeze by. Then, before I could be proven wrong, she rolled past, parked the cart, and groaned.
It was loud enough that my son gave her a look, one that seemed to be a mix of "I want to ride on that cart down the wheelchair ramp" and "If I need to be quiet in the library, so do you!"
I smiled at her, still gathering various loose books and children.
"These lower shelves are just about impossible," she admitted. I'm not sure if it was a complaint, or a badge of voluntary honor.
"I'll bet they are," I commiserated.
Before I could add a simple "have a good day" to the woman, one of my not-so-shy children piped up in their oh-so-inside voice: "But that's where the best treasures are!"
She might have groaned, or grunted, it's hard to distinguish the difference, but I'm pretty sure I heard doubt somewhere in there.
Our secret was out, the trick to finding great books at the library. I nodded my agreement, and hurried to explain: "We think the best books are down low, near the ground."
Her face looked bored. That hurt, because we were in the library, after all. If someone would rather wear plastic gloves and shelve the R's than talk to you, it's pretty much a given that your conversation could be more riveting.
Then, she surprised me, and spoke again, even while she shoved Curious George books into that inconveniently placed shelf.
"Well, that's because folks know how it hurts to bend that low, all for a book!" she added. I'm pretty sure she didn't get our point.
My smile was getting a bit fake and the three-year old's disapproving face was not improving. So, we gathered up our stories, wished the lady "Happy shelving!" and checked out.
Driving home, though, I thought about this distinction, between books on higher shelves and lower shelves; between volunteers and professionals. And I remembered a recent quote I had read by F. B. Meyer:
"I used to think that God's gifts were on shelves one above the other, and that the taller we grew in Christian character the easier we should reach them. I find now that God's gifts are on shelves one beneath the other, and that it is not a question of growing taller but of stooping lower, and that we have to go down, always down, to get His best gifts."
I can't help but nod in agreement, underline the quote in Ann Voskamp's book.
The best books are down low.
And the best gifts are down low.
So, I bend and stoop, trying not to groan with the sometimes uncomfortable positions. I wipe noses, feed mouths,clean messes, pick up laundry, gather library books, clean toilets - these blessings, all mine. Every one of them, an opportunity to bend lower, serve another, serve Him.
Down further, I go.
Because my children are right: that's where the best treasures are! I don't want to whisper it in an inside voice anymore; I want to shout it in a loud, clear, outside voice!
The best treasures are down low! (Mark 9:34-36)