“Each person defines faith for themselves. Part of that definition is received, imparted to us by culture and community. Part is internally developed over time and through experience. Faith, therefore, is a process. It can solidify or liquefy depending on the situation. Being conscious of what faith means to us is being aware of how life works for us. As Socrates is supposed to have said: the unexamined life is not worth living.” Steven Charleston Daily Facebook Message
In her weekly message to her church today, Mary Vano, rector of St. Margaret’s Church, Little Rock, reminds me about Lauren Winner’s spiritual memoir, Still, Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis, fifty-four short meditations about Winner’s two-year sojourn which she describes as the “middle” of her spiritual journey after the initial “glow.” Winner invites us to travel with her into the times of her unbelief when her spiritual life feels dry and God becomes an abstraction or absent. It is a time when awareness of God’s daily presence may be more difficult, especially in hard times such as the death of a loved one or difficulty in a marriage as Winner was experiencing. Dryness also may come when work or problems with children become overwhelming and there is no time left to try to find a spiritual connection, as well as when all the things you once did like praying, reading, going to church, no longer seem to make a connection to God.
Winner stops praying, but she still feels surrounded by prayers of other people. Slowly Winner finds God in the most unlikely and ordinary places and people like a group of believers watching a video in the parish hall during a pie social. Other writers such as Emily Dickinson, John Updike, and Julian of Norwich reconnect her and hold her still with a “loose stitch.” Harper, the publisher of Still, also provides an online book discussion and reflection guide of the book formatted for forty days of Lent, though it could be used at other seasons like forty days of summer!
So many people come for spiritual direction who are in this “middle” sojourn of their spiritual journey.