Perhaps there is no better gift than a book that speaks to your soul and becomes a trusted companion, ushering you through the discoveries of life.
The Little Prince was a gift that was waiting for me, hidden within a box of books donated by my mother-in-law for a fundraising sale that I was hosting.
Miraculously, it was never sold. Still with its dustcover intact, the 1972 copy- printed the same year as my birth- was peeking out from a pile of rejects, stretching and willing me to find it.
What a find it was. Every time I read The Little Prince I am brought to tears, touched by its beauty and the insights it offers. And like all good books, these discoveries change with the rhythms and resonance of my life.
When I first discovered my book, I was immediately overcome by its beautiful simplicity and the innocence of the Little Prince. I found his love for the flower so touching, his disappointment and bewilderment heart wrenching, and his exquisitely delicate character left me sobbing.
The second time I read the Little Prince, I had been drawn to an antique book store searching for a similar copy to give as a gift to my friend. Once again, it was waiting for me. Despite the owner’s insistence that no copies were in the store (he had just checked for another customer), there it was sitting patiently on the bookshelf. I was so happy to have found it that I sat down on the bench right there and read it from cover to cover wiping away my tears.
How interesting that my second reading revealed a Little Prince who was not so naïve at all. He spoke of simple yet absolute truths: the meaning of friendship and responsibility, the importance of having a purpose. It was through that second reading that I saw the Little Prince as truly wise and the men around him so foolish.
Several years have gone by since I picked up the Little Prince. But just yesterday it called to me once again.
This time I read through it quickly, the story now so familiar that I found it hard to pause and appreciate the beauty of the individual words. Somehow amidst the flowing cadence the phrase “matters of consequence” danced into my awareness, urging me to contemplate its meaning.
The author playfully suggests that the Little Prince is written to and for children since only they understand what’s truly important. It is true that notions that are pure and simple are easily dismissed and discarded out of deference for the complex and more sophisticated.
I am perhaps only now coming to appreciate the purity of the most precious gifts that my children seem to already innately understand.
Ironically, when I first discovered my love for the Little Prince I was so eager to share it with my children. Although they wanted to love it, and pretended that they did, I knew that it was me they loved, and not my beloved book.
But perhaps by connecting their love for me with my love for my book, we will have together created a thing of great and lasting consequence…
“In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night…. You- only you- will have stars that can laugh…”