I had a knock on the door this afternoon. I answered it, expecting the person on the other side of the door would be a friend who was coming to reclaim a scarf left behind last night after our Chanukah/New Year's gathering.
It was not that friend. It was a teacher from my children's school--a former teacher and well-liked one of my older two children--coming to return two books I'd lent her a few months ago.
I am generally leery to lend out favorite books, especially because I've sometimes had them returned to me not in the same condition as they were given out; sometimes they haven't been returned even. But I made a conscious decision to break my own rule and pass along these books. I knew that this teacher was an avid reader; I knew that she had an appreciation for fine writing; and I knew that perhaps she could learn something from these books to share with her students.
I had lent her my personalized copy of THE HEBREW KID AND THE APACHE MAIDEN, as well as THE BOOK OF ARIEL. Over the few months that the teacher had these copies in her possession, at times I'd wanted to reach for them on a Shabbat afternoon and peruse through them -- and they weren't in my armoire. Other times I'd talk to guests about how I came to blog, what blogs I read, the friends I'd made, the resulting trip I'd taken to L.A. in June -- and wanted to show these books to the friends. Then I remembered I didn't have them in my possession currently.
So to say I was relieved to answer the door and find the teacher, reaching out to give back my books is the truth. But I was more than relieved when I asked her if she'd gotten through the two of them and she answered something like, "Oh, yes. They were both so wonderful.... Did you listen to the CD? I kept playing the CD (A SONG FOR ARIEL) over and over and over while reading the pages of THE BOOK OF ARIEL and tears would run down my cheeks. So moved was I... An incredible book, an incredible person..."
Dare I repeat what I and countless others have said over time: a person does not have to have known Ariel Chaim Avrech personally to claim, "I've been touched by an angel."