Please Don’t Dog Ear The Pages

“Oh, yeah.  Tell him I’d like to have a new copy of Watership Down.  I can’t read the one I have now.”

My son, kind man that he is, wants to buy his father a gift for Christmas, even though I’ve said many times that I need nothing.  The Lovely Lady knows better and sends him ideas by text—secretly, she thinks.

We were riding toward home this evening, after a trip to a neighboring town, and my brain jumped to the thought.  As I usually do, I spoke without considering the consequences.

Well, I guess they will not be, strictly speaking, consequences. However, the Lovely Lady now has a new aberration to consider in her husband’s character, thanks to my premature announcement.  (I’m not sure it’s well-advised to give her too many of these points of oddness to think about at one time.)

She probably didn’t expect me to see the eye-roll that preceded her next question.  I suppose I didn’t really see it as much as I felt it.

What’s wrong with the copy on the bookshelf?  It looks perfectly legible to me.

She knew the answer.  She just wanted to hear it from me.

I fell in love with the story many years ago, back when I was young and full of dreams.  I still enjoy reading through it, now that I’m old and full of dreams.  The only problem is, I gave away my old, worn paperback copy back a ways. 

I thought I wouldn’t need it anymore.

We had been in a favorite book shop one afternoon, looking for bargains, when I saw it.  No, I saw IT.

IT was a beautiful hardback, with the dust jacket intact—paper, covered with clear plastic—and crisp, clean pages.  The price, written inside the back cover in pencil was exorbitant, ten times what I would normally pay for a good hardback—fifty times what I’d pay for a decent paperback.

We couldn’t afford it. 

We bought it anyway.

We walked out of the little book store with a near-mint First American Edition of the book.  I would never need to thumb through that old, tattered paperback again.  Never.

The truth of the matter is, I’ve never read the beautiful hardback.  Never.

I never will.  The book’s value is in its rarity, its exclusivity, its pristine condition.

The thing is, when I read, I live.  I eat.  Chocolate and grease stains attest to the fact.  I drink coffee or juice—suitable evidence can be provided.

I carry my books out to the bench in the back yard and, if interrupted rigorously enough, lay them down to scratch the ears of my dogs or play a game of fetch with them. 

I’ve always been told books are your friends, meaning I should handle them with kid gloves, but I don’t treat my friends that way.  I live life with them. 

I leave my mark on them and they leave their mark on me. 

Not so with this hardback.  It may be the worst fifty dollars I ever spent.  I can’t read it, nor can I sell it.  You don’t sell your friends  (unless your name is Judas).

She understands me, the Lovely Lady.  She just likes to make sure I know that, once in a while.

I think she sent a message to our son as we rode.  I don’t know for sure.  My mind was far away.  Even farther away than Watership Down.

Have you ever wondered?  Many do.  I can’t understand how one wouldn’t.

Why did the Savior of the world have to come like this?  Why a baby, born in a stable?  Why did smelly shepherds have to come, and weird foreigners have to follow a strange star?

Why did He live, wandering the land of His birth, homeless and un-celebrated? 

Why did He die a criminal’s death, hanging in shame on a crude cross of wood?

I would have had Him come as a triumphant conqueror, dressed in white and ruling from His palace, far above the smells and cries and demands of the filthy, backward people who walked the roads and worked in the marketplace.

I would have had. . .


He came to be a friend to sinners, didn’t He?   

Like any friend, He would leave His mark on us.

And, we would leave our mark on Him.

He would leave His mark on us and we would leave our mark on Him. Click To Tweet

No pristine first edition, He.  Our very own volume, well-worn and dog-eared, to learn from firsthand.

The Word became flesh.  Living with us. (John 1:14)

His life an open book, one might say.

Maybe it’s time to read the book again.

I hope no one will mind if I dog ear a page or two.



I wonder as I wander, out under the sky,
How Jesus the Savior did come for to die
For poor ornery people like you and like I;
I wonder as I wander, out under the sky.
(I Wonder As I Wander ~ John Jacob Niles ~ © 1945 by G. Schirmer, Inc. All rights reserved.  Used by permission.)




© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2017. All Rights Reserved.

I’ve Got All Day

Ten o’clock sharp.  Every weekday morning.  The door is unlocked and the music store is open for business.

It says so on the door in black and white:  Business hours: 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM

Right on the door.  In black and white.

I actually arrive most mornings an hour early.  Preparations need to be made.  Loose ends are tied up from the previous day’s business.  Orders have to be assembled.  Repairs sometimes need to be completed.  I want to be ready for the customers who will walk through the door each day.

I see them in the parking lot.  Nearly every morning, vehicles pull off the street and pause before the front door.  They’re reading that business hours sign.  They always leave—well, nearly always.

Earlier this week, as I readied the cash register at about a quarter to ten, I noticed a nondescript economy car pulling up to the store.  I ignored it, certain they would back out and leave, to return after I opened up.  I was wrong.

Wham! Wham! Wham!

The door rattled with the force of the blows.  I wasn’t ready to open up yet, besides which, I tend to be a little obstinate when rushed before hours.  I didn’t open the door.  A car door slammed outside and I heard a tiny bit of tire-rubber being deposited on the asphalt as the driver left.

I think he was unhappy.

And yet, at 10:05 when he returned (the door then being unlocked), there was no indication of any residual discontent.  Our conversation was cordial—friendly, even.  It was interesting to hear him talk about his day.  He said it more than once, so I’m fairly certain it was so:

“I’ve got the whole day off. I’m just going to take my time and do whatever I want.”

I’m confused.

The door pounding?  The tire squealing?  Something’s not right here.  The sign clearly gives perspective on what one would expect.  Experience with other retail establishments would discourage such actions.

woman-1243250_640And, he’s got all day.  No hurry at all.

Why is virtue so hard?  You know—patience is a virtue, good things come to those who wait—things like that.  

Why is it so difficult, then?

I don’t have the answer to that.  But, I do find myself thinking about the impetuous man.  In quiet hours, I wonder.

I’ve got a whole lifetime.  He had only one day.  A whole lifetime, to live my life.  Yet constantly, I am impatient—antsy to get on with things.

You too?

It’s funny.  We have the signs that tell us what to expect.  Springtime and harvest.  Day follows night.  One man plants, another harvests.  To everything there is a season.  All written in black and white for us to read.

But, we stand at the door, not being able to see what’s happening behind it, and we pound with our fists, perhaps even kicking it with our feet.

We know the truth.  Our times are in His hands.  For all our uncertainty and stumbling in the darkness, we believe He controls all that happens to us.  (Psalm 31:15)

Or, do we?

He says wait, and we fidget—be patient, and we worry.

We’ve got all our lives.  And, we can’t add one millisecond to those lives by worrying.  He says that, too.

His plan is being worked out in us.  He began the work; He’ll complete it. (Philippians 1:6)


He knows how much time we’ve got.  Pounding on the door won’t change His plan.  Laying rubber in the parking lot will have no effect whatsoever.

Do you know that waiting builds us into the people we were intended to be?  I hope I’m not stretching here.  

They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength.  They shall mount up on wings as the eagles do.  They’ll run and not grow tired.  They’ll walk and not become faint.  (Isaiah 40:31)

Patience, my friends.  

The doors will open wait-661072_640at exactly the right time and we’ll be welcomed in.

It says so right there in black and white.

Wait.  Patiently.




Have patience.  Have patience.
Don’t be in such a hurry.
When you get impatient,
You only start to worry.
Remember.  Remember,
That God is patient, too.
And think of all the times
When others have to wait for you.
(from Music Machine ~ Hernandez/Powell ~ Singer/Songwriters)


For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all.Who hopes for what they already have?  But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
(Romans 8:24-25 ~ NIV)




© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2016. All Rights Reserved.