It’s a lovely Spring morning. Out there the sun shines, birds sing and our dog suns itself on the lawn, too groggy with ambience to even jump up and chase the wrens that will be gathering. The yard smells of new growth. But for me, it’s an ‘in here’ day: in the corner of our home that’s crammed with books—people really. Some of them are still alive but many have left this world.

These dead writers and thinkers (and some still alive) have been like wise old ghosts sitting on my shelves and giving me gifts every day. No, we’re not talking seances here, this is about words on pages gradually illuminated by years of life in the same way an archeologist’s brush might gradually reveal the shape, colour and texture of a magnificent piece of pottery or an ancient skull. I do have a skull in here actually, one that belonged to a a bore pig I once shot, but that’s another story.

As I’ve read the writings of these men and women and pored and prayed over their words, years have passed: Christmases have come and gone, I’ve married a stunning princess; we’ve had lots of children and I’ve made plenty of mistakes. And hell and heaven have made their presence felt—in our delicate bodies of flesh—in no uncertain terms. Laughter, singing and loud sobs of anguish have been heard. Meanwhile, in the background, these writers have become part of our joy and sorrow, sharing their music with me, my family and friends, and opening entire new worlds of fact and fiction to our minds and imaginations. The gift of their words has brought wisdom, healing, grace and energy—and they keep giving and giving. How lucky I am to have such friends!