Ever read a book that is so insightful and brilliantly written that it makes your mouth drop open with every page? I felt that way about the Anais Nin Diaries, and, I should say I feel that way about the Bible in a broad sense. And Rilke’s Book of Hours slays me. Oh, and Madeleine L’Engle’s Walking on Water. Well, now there’s another, My Bright Abyss, by Christian Wiman. It is poetic prose, sub-titled, Meditation of a Modern Believer. This book makes me think, makes me feel, makes me want to write.
I looked him up. He is a poet. Has taught at Stanford; has many more books which I will check out. As I was reading about Wiman, I came across this:
In a 2009 interview with Bookslut editor Jessa Crispin, discussing what he hopes readers might take from his work, Wiman stated, “I have no illusions about adding to sophisticated theological thinking. But I think there are a ton of people out there who are what you might call unbelieving believers, people whose consciousness is completely modern and yet who have this strong spiritual hunger in them. I would like to say something helpful to those people.”
Reminds me of the verse in Mark’s Gospel, chapter 9, verse 24: “I believe; help Thou my unbelief.”
So, I’ll share a poem with you by Wiman, the lines that preface the book:
My God my bright abyss
into which all my longing will not go
once more I come to the edge of all I know
and believing nothing believe in this:
Every time I read those lines, I find another nuance. So I read on. Check this out:
“There is nothing more difficult to outgrow than anxieties that have become useful to us [ ] as explanations for a life that never quite finds its true force or direction [ ].” (p 10)
Seems like most days I am in conversations about how to live a life that “finds its true force.” You know, that feeling that you’re on the planet for a reason which only you can quite fill? And the subsequent feeling that you’re not quite filling it?
Belief and unbelief go hand in hand when it comes to living your life's purpose, too.
I don’t guess I’d ever thought of the way anxieties are the excuse for not “making it.” Anxiety is easily cloaked, buried even deeper than the infamous “fear of failure/fear of success” syndrome. Anxiety over bills, anxiety over rejection, anxiety over anxiety.
Which reminds me, I left a great book off the “wow” list: The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield. Same idea about finding your true direction and the myriad ways we resist finding it.
Just some thoughts.
Hope you enjoy.