For some time, I have been engaged in the slow and meticulous repair and rebinding of a precious little book of spiritual guidance entitled “Joy and Strength” by Mary W. Tilestone. First published in 1901, this much-beloved little devotional book was in a sad condition when it was brought to me: The cover torn off, the entire block exploded, pages missing, some pages worn to absolute cobwebs by use, it was a repair I would not normally have recommended for a volume of no monetary value. I had to reconsider when the owner explained the book’s history and meaning to me. This small volume had belonged to the owner’s mother, and had been a daily source of comfort and inspiration to her. On the mother’s passing, it had been passed to the owner’s sister, who had loved and used it equally. On the sister’s passing, it came to the current owner. This lovely lady finds our little volume equally comforting and meaningful. Dismayed by its disintegrating condition, she brought it to me in hope I might be able to do something with it so that she might retain the inscription and continue to benefit from the contents. I relented and quoted a price I thought realistic for the work that would be involved to bring this little volume back to life.
I have worked slowly and meticulously, page by page and have found that restoring this wonderful little book has grown into a true labour of love. Those pages worn to cobwebs have been gently cleaned and mounted onto Japanese tissue. The frontispiece with its family inscription has been preserved. Now, as I am re-assembling the block and preparing to mount the book into a new case, I feel a peaceful sense of completion. Being privileged to read the wisdom carried in the pages as I have repaired them, the journey to the restoration of this little volume has been as great a gift to me. I think it is no mistake of fate that this job came to me at a time in my life when I needed the greatest healing to spirit I have ever needed. That gift is worth far more than any fee such a job could bring.
Having first wrought its magic on me, I now take delight in being gifted with the skill in my hands to send this profoundly wise little volume back into the world to continue its work. Its words will remain with me long after the little volume has returned to its rightful owner.