Last week, I had reason to go to a book store. I went armed with seven ISBNs of books that had potential to be what I have been trying to find. I scoured the most logical section, but was forced to look them up on the store computer. Every last one was either out of print (and one private seller listed a used copy of one for more money than I will ever spend on a book unless it is hand-written, hand-bound, and encrusted with jewels) or out of stock and available for a no-ETA order.
I don't want to order these books because I need to look at them. I need to know if they will actually help before I put forth the money to get them. And I won't be trying for some of those out-of-print books, particularly not the one that someone was trying to sell for $1 a page.
Yes, I know I just need to go to a library.
In my searching for potential books, I noticed something, a fact that makes these books that I can find un-appealing. Almost all of them, by descriptions and keywords, include something about religion, and they all implied Christian religion.
I think that religious faith is a very important thing. It is also a very personal thing. Reading a book where someone may say that their faith in their god got them through is not going to help me. I do not follow their god. That's not the kind of book I'm trying to find; I'm not looking for comfort from a book anyway.
The other side of that is I understand that people find strength in faith. There are words of religious wisdom that can give a person courage, comfort, or relief. Religious leaders often act as counselors. It's important to explore that outlet of support, but what is found there is not going to be the same for everyone.
I admit that I rarely turn to my faith for support. I can think of more than a few people who would use that fact to tell me my faith choices are incorrect if I can't rely on them when I need help. I'm not here to discuss theology, however; this is another matter altogether.
The kind of support that I'm really craving is from other human beings, and I am finding it in small measures here and there. The support I get from my faith is a lot like the support I get from writing this blog: an outlet, not an inlet.
As far as books, I'm looking for something more like a guide. Something that can tell me what visiting might be like, general dos and don'ts of care packages, what might be expected when the sentence is over. I'm looking for the kinds of things that can only be reported by someone with experience. It's more than dealing with feelings and emotions and needing help. There's a practical side too. I'm preparing to march into the unknown without such a guide, and that's ok. It has to be that way. Working through feelings and finding support is only one side of the help I want to find right now.