The retrieval of that which is lost

Last Sunday afternoon in a certain city, a dusty and over-stuffed automobile stopped in an empty public parking lot, where its driver made a cell phone call.  He then drove to a shady corner of the lot and parked.  Less than ten minutes later, a second vehicle entered the lot and came to a stop near the first.  Both drivers got out of their cars and greeted one another, after which the driver of the second car opened his trunk to display an open box.  The first driver, after examining the contents of the box with approval, gave the other man a sum of money and put the box in his own car.  After a short conversation, the buyer got into his car and departed the lot, heading out of town.  The seller drove off in another direction.

J. Brierley ("J.B.") 1843-1914

On the face of it, an observer might have seen this transaction as anything but what it was – my pre-arranged purchase, while driving home from vacation, of eight rare volumes by Jonathan Brierley, a popular religious essayist of the early twentieth century.  The book dealer, 250 miles from my hometown, had agreed the week before by email to meet me on short notice while I passed through town, and sell me the books in a cash deal without postage and handling costs.

Interesting to note, it had been almost a year earlier that I had first spotted the collection online – just after returning home from a previous vacation in which I had passed through that same city.  Nevertheless, I felt no compulsion to order them at the time, but conceived of the possibility of executing the transaction as I did, in the current year.  I was almost certain I would not lose my opportunity, even if I should let an entire year pass, because I have noticed that nobody on Earth is yet seeking the forgotten books and authors which I hold to be crucial to the next theology.

More on Brierley in the sequel.


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