It was the teacher and writer, Lauren Winner, tonight. And she read portions of a forthcoming book. It’s all about the middle of things, and especially the middle passages of faith. Because her first book (Girl Meets God) shared her process of conversion from Judaism to Christianity, she was charmed on the speaking circuit among communities where the first testimony of conversion is always the most important. But now, almost fifteen years later, she knows that the beginning of faith is just that, the beginning, and everything that follows, and the way it changes, is the real thing. She came to a moment in her life and faith life of hitting the proverbial wall, the place where faith is thin and questioned and feared for.
Most of life is lived after beginnings, yet beginnings seem to captivate people of faith so much that they miss the passage and farewells and endings. There wasn’t one there tonight who didn’t know that wall personally, what it means and its terror. And yet a conspiracy of cheerfulness sometimes prevails, expectations that every pew in every church should be filled only with examples of never discouraged faith. How untrue that is.
Winner is right, that most of it happens in the middle as God glances off our hearts while we are on the way to a new understanding, new trust, new expectation for God. And once we start talking about those middle places faith will become more real than ever before.