There was a notice in yesterday’s paper about a library book that has been returned to the San Francisco Public Library. The title is Soul on Ice by Eldredge Cleaver. The book was due back in the Eureka branch of the library in December 1970. It is over 47 years overdue. The late fee would have been $1731 if it had not been capped at $10, long ago.
Though it has sustained some damage it remains in decent condition. However the librarian admitted she was eager to get the story behind the returned book.
I imagine that this bit of news made it into the Cape Cod Times because it was unusual, and humorous. But I always think that stories like this raise deeper questions that we all ponder about life.
What is the right thing to do when you see you have overlooked something? How do you set things right when you find something that a family member failed to do. Should they throw it away and try to move on like nothing happened. Or try to return the book, and at least do that much. Is it ever too late to make things right?
Many people would say there is no reason to return such a book. No doubt the library replaced the missing book decades ago. They won’t miss it.
But the reason to try to return it has very little to do with the library. The people who benefit most from the return of the book, I would argue, are the people who kept it all those years. There are plenty of times in life when we don’t know whether to go back and close the circle or whether to let it go and move on. So the question is what will make the most difference to us. Going back can be the very thing you need to do to start a new path forward.
Blessings on your journey, Rev. Susan