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Faces of Faith: A road trip to Wichita

By Staff | Sep 9, 2015

Many years ago my parents owned a bookstore–well, actually, a gift and bookstore. But for my mother it was the book part that really counted.

Mother loved operating that little shop, in part because it gave her ample time to sample the wares. I can still picture her sitting in her rocker near the checkout counter, engrossed in one or another volume she had slipped off the shelves!

They sold the business over thirty years ago, but to this day, my mother loves bookstores. Most any kind of bookstore.

From big chains like Barnes and Noble, to small musty ones that sell second-hand books. She loves them all!

She can get lost amongst the rows of bound pages for hours on end.

For several years now her favorite bookstore has been a rather eclectic place in Wichita, Kan., called Eighth Day Books.

It is run by an Eastern Orthodox fellow who is a big fan of Wendell Berry and C. S. Lewis. It has sections devoted to literature, liturgy, spirituality, science–even a section devoted to the art of reading! And it also has a very large stock of icons.

The eyes of Mary follow you all over the store!

But while mother had poured over Eighth Day’s catalogues, which included reviews and lengthy descriptions, and while she has ordered dozens of books from the shop by mail, she had never set foot in the place!

So earlier this summer she was talking about Eighth Day and off-handedly said, “You’ll just have to take me there someday!”

We both laughed. I live here on Sanibel, in Florida.

Mother lives in Kentucky. The store is, as I said earlier, in Kansas!

But when I got off the phone and told my wife Linda about the conversation, she said, “Why not? Why don’t you take her to Wichita?”

The next Sunday, when we talked on the phone, I told her–and she was thrilled!

“Wichita?” she almost shouted, “You’re really taking me to Wichita?” And so an adventure was born.

Mothers and Books and Witchita -2

And so the second week in August we went been to Wichita. The owner of Eighth Day Books, Warren Farha, and his staff, were most welcoming!

I suppose it’s not everyday somebody comes all that distance just to visit their store. But we did!

Crazy, right?

I mean, Wichita? In August?

But such is the draw of books–for Mom, and quite honestly, for me as well. My sister, who lives in the same town as Mom, tells me Mother has told everyone about the trip. Everyone. Her friends, her pastor, her pharmacist, probably the guy who pumps her gas.

Who knows what the future holds for me and Mom as we both continue to grow older.

But, hey, we’ll always have Wichita!

Rev. Dr. John H. Danner, Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ