When you grow up evangelical in the South, you hear God speak all the time.
Over the mashed potatoes, under the watch of the calligraphic Scriptures on the walls; in Carl Kasell’s voice over the radio on your way to school. You invite God to coffee to study the Bible with you and He sits beside you on the bus to church camp and laughs at all your jokes. You hear Him that night on the jungle gym and that time you stood at the corner of downtown with a sandwich in your hand wondering why you got up in the middle of the Ash Wednesday service and fled. And you keep hearing Him, years on end, even on that Sunday you sit in the parking lot of the small Episcopal church after the Baptist-based ministry you felt Him call you to do has crumbled and you are so vacant and so wavering that you tell Him you’re done, you’re empty, and He tells you to walk into church.
But one September morning, when you least expect it, you’re sitting in a friend’s apartment in the middle of September after a belated celebration of your birthday the night before—in which you drank French 75s and read aloud a short story you wrote about lighthouses and champagne, after which your friend tells you you’re sill in love with the girl you broke up with a year ago and you should call her, find out where things stand—and you’re reading the Gospel of Luke when you feel suddenly, keenly, that Christ the Lord is sitting beside you on the couch as you’re reading. It’s a different kind of hearing. It’s almost the tangible kind. Since this is new, you try to make pious small talk, pointing out that you hadn’t noticed before in the Song of Zechariah that Christ is there called the rising sun.
But He doesn’t want to make small talk.
“It’s going to be about trust with you."
Eight words. Ten syllables.
Then He’s gone. And you stop hearing God speak altogether.
It’s just you, the King James, and the Silence, which is really, truly, a feeling of Absence.
And you think it might be the middle of something, or the end. Eventually, nearly a year later, you see it as a beginning. But the seeing takes time. For a little while, it’s just going to be you and the Silence.
The first section of my memoir. The first words I wrote after I said, I think I'm writing a book.
I spoke to my agent yesterday about by varying book projects, the what, the why, the how.
We both agreed, after months of prayer and wondering, that writing my memoir first was the best thing to do, honoured best the readers who helped me raise money through Kickstarter so that I could be in Scotland at school and writing at the same time in the first place.
And so, samsara, the bending in of self back onto self, here's the announcement: I'm writing my spiritual memoir and I'm sending it out to publishers soon.
A Common Faith: A Memoir of God Found, Lost, and Found Again.
I suppose it could be alternatively titled, How a Conservative Southern Baptist Learned to Read Saints, Cross Himself, and Became a Theologically Conservative, Politically Liberal, Christian Feminist, and Idealist Pacifist Who Also Understands the Need for Civil Defense, and Who Also Bakes ... and likes bourbon.
... or something.
This is the first book that birthed in my heart two years ago, about the day God left and the journey I went on before and after that helped me find Him again.
I'm thrilled to someday share it with you. Soon. Someday.
I'm off to write.