A few weeks ago, Crux Staff posted their next five reads. I’ve been working away at my particular next five list, and recently finished reading Still by Lauren F. Winner. Let me tell you about it.
If you’ve read Winner’s other books, this is different from those. Winner uses memoir in all of her writing, but not all of her books are properly memoirs. The books reflect on her own life as an illustration for the more general spiritual life. Girl Meets God is clearly more of a memoir than book of spiritual direction, and Mudhouse Sabbath is clearly more a book of spiritual direction than a memoir. Still leans toward spiritual direction, but memoir and spiritual reflection are deeply entangled in the work.
Winner examines the middle of the spiritual life, that part of the life of faith that most of us live most of the time. The excitement and newness of conversion are past and the wisdom of age is not yet upon us. We are in the middle — and middles are not usually perceived as the exciting part of anything. Winner looks around for positive ideas around middles and finds them in chess and other places.
I read most of this book sitting on a porch in Muskoka, not while on vacation, but in my breaks from directing a leadership training program for potential camp cabin leaders. The week was a crisis for me as I had not planned to be there — but God through circumstances had other plans. I read Winner’s words on mid-faith crises in the middle of continuing to serve in a place and situation when I thought I’d passed my responsibilities on. Winner still went to church and still continued in Christian practices as she moved into the middle of her faith journey; I was still at camp. I found the book helpful in my particular location; you will find it helpful for other reasons and in other circumstances.