lauren winner is one of my very favorites. everything that she’s written has been so timely in my life. her first book is called ‘girl meets god.’ it’s an excellent book & it’s really smart– all about winner’s life & journey through reformed Judism, orthodox Judiasm, & Christianity. unfortunately the combo of the cover & title make the book seem like some kind of chick lit Christian book that will tell you how to meet the perfect boyfriend. so when I tell people I love this book I feel like I have to follow up with “IT IS SO MUCH BETTER THAN IT LOOKS I PROMISE.” anyway, digression.
I read winner’s most recent book last semester. titled ‘still,’ the book explores loss & failure, doubt & faith. tonight while I was tidying my room, I found it on my nightstand… I picked it up, flipping through, re-reading parts I’d underlined. there are countless things that I gleaned from this book… lessons about sainthood (“the failure of a saint reveals the forgiveness & new possibilities made in God, & the saint is just a small character in a story that is always about God.”), about the simultaneous closeness & elusiveness of God, about prayer, about Emily Dickinson. my copy of ‘still’ is full of marginala & underlining… but this part in the preface is perhaps my favorite:
“The enthusiasms of my conversion have worn off. For whole stretches… my belief has faltered, my sense of God’s closeness has grown strained, my efforts at living in accord with what I take to be the call of the gospel have some undone.”
And yet in those same moments of strained belief, of not knowing where or who God is, it has also seemed that the Christian story keeps explaining who and where I am, better than any other story I know. On the days when I think I have a fighting chance at redemption, at change, I understand it to be these words and these rituals and these people who will change me. Some days I am not sure if my faith is riddled with doubt or whether, graciously, my doubt is riddled with faith. And yet I continue to live in a world the way a religious person lives in the world; I keep living in a world I know to be enchanted, and not left alone. I doubt; I am uncertain; I am restless, prone to wander. And yet glimmers of holy keep interrupting my gaze.”
the biggest complaint about ‘still’ seems to be the fact that winner doesn’t offer a lot of concrete answers. but oh, it is sometimes healing in and of itself simply to find someone asking your same questions. I’m glad to read the words of someone who has learned to doubt well… & ever so thankful for the gracious, gracious God who incessantly sends glimmers of holy to reclaim my wandering gaze.