Once upon a time, there was a great library.
In it, was every record of every life there had ever been on the planet. Rows upon rows of books sat on those shelves – tales of valour and cowardice, tales of laughter and sadness, everything you could ever imagine. A librarian kept a record of all these books. While people could walk in and read the stories, they were never allowed to carry them out.
Each precious tome was strictly guarded. Every single one was put just where it belonged in just the right shelf and beside just the right books – in just the right isle and in just the right section.
One day, a little girl walked into the library.
“Hello sir,” she greeted the librarian.
“Why hello there young scholar,” greeted the friendly librarian, “and how may I help you?”
“I’m looking for a particular book. I don’t know where it is.”
Taking her hand, the librarian smiled and offered to lead her to just the book she was looking for.
The little girl was very happy and that day, she knew that she had made a very good friend.
Years passed and the little girl grew, learning new things in the library, finding out new ways of living and being, discovering what was good and bad, what was acceptable and what was not. She learned and in learning, she grew.
One day, she came into the library desperate, her eyes sparkling with tears.
“What’s the matter dear?” he asked.
“I need... I need to know what to do. What should I do? I hurt. I hurt here...” she said clutching the left side of her shirt. The Librarian’s old eyes knew all. As custodian of the library, of course he was wise. Taking her hand again, just like he did when she was a little girl, he led her to just the right place in the library. Patting her shoulder in a friendly manner, he left her to read and work through what had hurt her.
Eventually, the young woman grew older. As she did, she learned more and more about the world. She was able to see things she couldn’t have when she was a child, and surprisingly, not even when she was a young woman.
One day, on her way in, she stopped at the Librarian’s desk and greeted him in her usual friendly manner.
“Librarian, do you know what happens next?”
“And why would you want to know the answer to that?” the woman shrugged.
“To know how it all goes, to see that it will all be alright. I just want to know where and how it all ends... wouldn’t you?”
Laughing, the Librarian shook his head, then looked thoughtful for a moment, then rose from his seat. Taking her hand, he led her down several isles before he arrived at the perfect one. Then he walked her past rows and rows of shelves until they got to the row he was looking for.
He scanned the spines of the tomes until he came to the one he was looking for.
“This is the one. Why don’t you open it?” he said and held his hands behind his back.
The woman opened the book and saw a picture there of herself as a little girl, walking into the library for the first time. Then she understood. This was her story. Flipping through the pages of the book, they almost seemed to come to life – they were vibrant and alive with memories, experiences, feelings; loneliness, sadness, aching, hunger, tiredness, laughter, joy, love, wonder, excitement, thrills, understanding, empathy, sympathy... Everything she had ever felt, seen, touched, tasted, smelled, heard, experienced; it was all there. Then she got to this moment, when she saw a picture of herself, holding a book, just like she was, with the Librarian looking on, exactly like he was in that moment. The rest of the pages were blank.
“What does it mean? Why is it blank?”
The Librarian smiled. And asked her to look down at the new blank page she had turned to. She saw her word shimmer into being, forever etched into the book.
“It means that the story is still being written.” The woman looked a little disappointed. The Librarian patted her arm.
“I have met many, many people and they have all asked me the very same question. I have given them the very same answer.”
He took the book back, shut it and carefully placed it exactly where it belonged.
“Every story here is a life, still being lived. There are new adventures being had. There are hearts being broken and souls being restored in faith and love. There is so much to do and be and see and you, in this moment are. That is all you ever need to know.”The woman smiled and thanked the Librarian then left.
Many, many years passed and a little boy walked into the library looking for a particular book.
“Ah,” said the Librarian, “I know just the one.”
Taking his hand in hers, she led him down the rows of shelves and showed him exactly the book he was looking for.
The little boy was very happy and that day, he knew that he had made a very good friend.