We recently said goodbye to an old friend. We have spent the last year or so getting to know him well. Our family has had many instructive conversations, laughs and cries because of our relationship with him. Our lives will be forever changed and made fuller because of the influence he had on us. It won't be goodbye forever, however. We can visit him anytime just by opening a book.
His name is Ralph Moody and we learned about his life..good, bad, happy sad...through the pages of the Little Britches series. Ralph's work ethic and willingness to learn whatever was necessary to make his way was inspiring to my boys. Some lessons are harder learned and we sympathized with him as he took his life's knocks. That's the wonderful thing about building relationships. We share the ins and outs of their lives and ours become fuller in the process.
The beauty of living books is that we can build relationships with those who have gone before, lingering over the pages to learn from their wisdom (or lack thereof.) They don't even have to be real people. I've learned some of the truest life lessons through the lives of fictional characters.
The secret...is time. Time to ponder. Time to savor. Time to ruminate. If we feel rushed to get through a book list or a curriculum guide, we won't develop those relationships beyond a cursory glance. It's like real life. Some people we do not know at all. Others we know only in passing. Lasting relationships are developed by spending time with those folks who are dearest to us. We get inside their hearts and minds and they into ours.
Our fast-paced world makes it more difficult to know anyone well. Slow down. Open a book. And build a relationship.