No Books About Me (or No Art is Wasted)

Tang Cafe, 9A Abbey St Lower, Dublin, Ireland
11:03 AM
Listening to Hunter G K Thompson’s new album “No Books About Me”.
Would recommend all of the above. Including the time.

Thought I’d include that last couple of sentences “just cause” (cause this is my blog) - but also because it’s a great little segue into this journal entry/reflection/poetry piece. This is my fourth day here in Dublin before I move onto the Belfast area, but thought I’d share a little bit about one of my experiences here.

(If you want to skip straight to my prose, head to the bottom of this page)

Whenever I get the chance to travel, I really love exploring a city and getting the full experience of what it is to live there. Don’t get me wrong, yes, I am a tourist - but at least I’m trying to deviate from the norm! Anyway, I was on a bout of exploration with some recently made friends from various hostels, that I had met on a free walking tour (which is a GREAT way to explore) waltzing the city of Dublin.

We decided to beeline for Trinity College (which had been recommended by the walking tour): we were told it held an Irish Christian relic called “The Book of Kells”, which is a compilation of the four gospels which were inscribed approximately around 800 AD.

The Book of Kells Exhibit, Trinity College, Dublin. For more on the importance of “The Book of Kells”, visit  https://www.tcd.ie/visitors/book-of-kells/

The Book of Kells Exhibit, Trinity College, Dublin. For more on the importance of “The Book of Kells”, visit https://www.tcd.ie/visitors/book-of-kells/

More on this in a paragraph or so.

What I wasn’t aware of is that this impactful exhibit linked to another one: “The Long Room”. I could attempt to explain to you what this room is, but I think this is where pictures paint (or in this case, display) thousands of words.

The Long Room - picture taken amateurly by Yours Truly.

The Long Room - picture taken amateurly by Yours Truly.

Or in much better resolution...

By Diliff - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42693401

By Diliff - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42693401

What you’re looking at is over 200,000 books compiled - and are still being compiled - since 1712. And it is breath taking.

And both “The Book of Kells” and The Long Room resonated with me.

The Irish monks who inscribed the text and laid ornate calligraphy in the Book of Kells… did they think that their work would resonate for over 1200 years, influencing both Irish and European history and Christianity? That the eternities of many would be significantly altered because they chose to make their piety more than a perceived posture?

Did the biographers, historians, novelists, playwrights and poets think that their work would outlast their lifetime over and over - or even make an impact in their own time?

Did they think that their quill-stroke, pen-stroke or paint-stroke would cast a legacy of literature and art for centuries to come? That people who may never even know their name might gaze in wonder and be inspired?

A medieval manuscript of the Bible from the 13th Century, Book of Kells exhibit, Trinity College, Dublin.

A medieval manuscript of the Bible from the 13th Century, Book of Kells exhibit, Trinity College, Dublin.

As I gazed upon the volumes of tomes stored away in those rustic and rickety shelves, John 21:25 came to mind:

“And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.” (NKJV)

The things that Jesus did - and is still doing - could not be contained within The Long Room. The pages are overflowing, chapters unending, tomes spilling over onto shelf after shelf after shelf because the author and the finisher is STILL writing. He’s not finished. And if our lives were in a book stored on a shelf somewhere in this vast and ginormous library, whether our thickness was lofty or lean, the great curator and librarian knows EXACTLY where you are and where you’re up to. And if you’re open, the original storyteller can continue to write your story.

And to the artist, the creative: no art is wasted. We may never get to see the full impact of the work we do in the moment, but it might just resonate down the halls of history and echo of eternity. But here’s the thing: no one single book in the library makes The Long Room. It’s only the collection of the thousands upon thousands upon thousands of books within the frame of room that make it great… but yet it wouldn’t be the same if a single book was missing. So in one sense, Hunter G K Thompson is right: there really are no books about me. Because even though it may have my name on the title, God is real author. And all of our stories in some way point to him, housed in the great house of eternity.

So as I sat back and absorbed the ambience of the throng, the stillness and silent witness of the books and shelves, the marble busts of those deemed significant literature greats and the grandeur of this manmade and temporary room, I couldn’t help but respond in kind. So I wrote.

So I’ll leave you with this prose:

An unfolding testimony
An unfolding tapestry
An unending story of your grace
A never ending tale of glory
Of providence divine
Binding every tome
Inviting the words inside to life

If my life were one book of knowledge
In a library beyond what the eye can see
If my book were short or lengthy
It pales into nothing amongst the eternal sea
If the all-knowing author were to trace out
every letter, every stop, every rhyme in my frail life
There would not be enough words to sing
the praises of the creator who has his
name emblazoned on every spine

The Word made flesh is still writing
A tree of life found in one tree
Of which volumes of grace are still unopened
and are available for me
Our each breath a sentence
of a tale not finished yet
Our God, the Author
Our Beginning and our End

There’s no books about me.

Mark DunlopTang