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  • Writer's pictureEdward Riederich

A Book in the Barrel


As I sit on the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial

My thoughts wander

They wander into history

They reminisce to almost 200 years ago

As I look out over the Reflecting Pool

I reflect on our 16th president


I observe a reflection in the pool

Of a towering skinny man

A humble and empathetic man

Who once ran a country store with his business partner


It was failing business 

A business going under

In Lincoln's words 

The business was "winked out"


One day Lincoln voiced his desire

"I want to study law

I want to buy a book

Not just any old book

But Black Stones Commentary on English Law"


At that very moment 

A wagon pulled up 

A stranger emerged

A man migrating to the West

He wanted to sell a barrel for 50 cents

He had no money

He was desperate

Lincoln peered into the wagon

Seeing the man's emaciated wife

He felt sorry for the peddler 

He felt compassion

He reached into his pocket 

Pulling out his last 50 cents

All that he had


Later that evening 

He reached his long skinny arms 

Into that one barrel

He felt something solid

He grasped it with his hand

It was a book

Not just any old book

It was Black Stones Commentary on English Law


He stood there 

Holding the book in wonder

He lifted it up to the heavens

As he did a deep impression came over him

An impression God had something more for his life

He felt God at that moment

He felt God was showing him to get ready for it


That book in the barrel

Of divine providence

It took a desire 

That turned it into a decision 

That became a destiny


The reflection soon fades

As I rise from my the stairs

I walk towards the Reflecting Pool

My own reflection appears

My own history begins

With desires

With decisions 

That become my own destiny


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