Monday, 29 June 2015

The Secret Power of Books by Pat Elliott

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Today as a guest on the lovely Simona's blog, I thought we could talk about the Secret Power of Books.

Did you know books have Secret Powers?

I don't mean the type where you swish a wand and say 'abracadabra'. No, the Power is more subtle than that. I believe each and every one of us who reads, has fallen under at least one spell.
The Secret Power is the sentence, the phrase, the paragraph that changes your life forever.
You'll know it when you read it – and it's different for everyone.

The first book that did this for me was a gift from an Irish cousin of mine. He was over visiting England, we were walking around the sports track in the local park, talking. When he left, he gave me a book, 'Cry, the Beloved Country' and he wrote a few words of dedication in it.
It's a Penguin Modern Classic, David signed it Christmas '84 … and I have it still, sitting beside me. That's 31 years later. The pages are foxed, but the love contained in the book and the gift are as clear and strong as the first day it was given to me.

So the words in this book which held the Secret Power and changed my life?
Set in apartheid Africa, an old country priest whose son had murdered a white man during a burglary was introduced to a lawyer, Mr Carmichael. As they were talking, the lawyer mentioned he would take the case 'pro deo'
When he left the room, the priest turned to a friend and asked how much would this great man cost, who took the case?
It was explained that in the old days of faith, taking a case 'pro deo' meant taking it for God. Which meant it cost nothing to the human who was being defended in court.
The old priest was stunned when he was told this; that a man should take a case for God and not charge him. He turned his face away and wept, never having met such kindness.

Now that struck a chord in me – and in my life, I try to be kind, so that one day, someone might think they had never met such kindness.
All because of the Secret Power of Books.

The phrase 'pro deo' has fallen out of fashion – but to my mind, kindness should never fall out of fashion.

There have been other books, other spells, but this was my first. It changed my life. 

I would love to know – not if – but what book changed something in your life.
Tell us in the comments below. Please.
If someone has performed an act of great kindness to you, unexpectedly – tell us that too.
Thank you for reading, thank you for commenting. 

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