On reading books


We are on holiday.  A lovely riad outside Marrakech, Morocco.  Sunbed, sleep, read, repeat.

I have just finished the (early years) biography of a comedian.  One I have laughed with loads of times.  His story is of “making it” as biographies of the famous are … of him knowing he was born to make people laugh … of that not being enough … of not knowing why … and eventually getting it.

It seems to me that I am writing that same book.  Of the knowing, of that not being enough, of the eventual getting it (without the fame).  Of a comfort, a “coming home”, a coming out of who I am, how I am, why I am.  Just as the roses around this verdant riad are roses and the olive trees are not – so with me and my being.  I am not you and you are not me.

And so to another book.

Because this biography gave me a new thought about the bible.  How so often I see only “famous people”, how I cannot separate religious tradition and teaching of the bible from the bible, how I read it so often as “Christianity for Dummies” – skipping to the bits to fix this or that in my life.  How that makes the bible a distant god.  The god we should, the god who did, the god we must, the god who will. A god who greater minds than mine have defined and explained and laid out for me to find.  A religious god.

I don’t want a god of tradition, of hindsight, of duty, of obligation.  I have never seen a god like that until I was told I must.  I knew a God who was never that, who (I think) never wanted us to make that our God.  I know, knew, and know again a God who enjoys me enjoying a sunbed, sun, read, repeat while all these “bad things” are happening (thank you global news websites).  A God who leaves it to me – to you – to each one of us – to choose.  A God who I have never seen viewing us and them.  A God – I believe – who has no us and them in a godly vocabulary.

This famous comedian included (selected) warts and (edited) all. Just like the bible.  Just like this post.  Just like religion and politics.  And, for me, all of this selecting and editing is not the enemy.  We live “selecting and editing” every second of every day.  We cannot live without selecting and editing.   For me that is not the enemy.

I am the enemy if I cannot be kind.  I am my enemy if I cannot be kind when you are wrong – when I am wrong – when I cannot be kind because the haters want me to hate – because it is easier to be “one of us” by hating them for what they do to us.

Choosing to be unkind is my enemy.

It is Ramadan until 26th.  In England in the petrol station on the way to the airport, the chap looking after things was sweating profusely and looking forwards to the evening.  A muslim.  Here in Morocco, dinner service is “delayed” whilst the staff break the day’s fast at sunset. More muslims.

In the petrol station, as here, I can be kind … in the few seconds filling the petrol tank and scooting off to an air-conditioned airport … each time I ask for another bottle of water and a beer in between cooling dips in their pristine pool … just as the fasting waiting staff can be kind as they bring more water and beer.  They don’t have to become christian nor me muslim. I don’t even have to be christian or they muslim.

Kindness is bigger than all that.  Kindness is all that and so much more.  Kindness does not need of you or me a belief in any god or no god.  Kindness desires kindness. Kindness is kindness.  Kindness, like love, is bigger than even life and death.  Just as I can be kind to you I can speak kindly of those who have died – perhaps more easily than those still living.

I was born to be kind.  And now I understand the why and the how.

How about you?

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