As most of you know, my husband is an editor at Random House. As such, he acquires books for several of their religious imprints, including a brand new one called Convergent.
Sometimes I get a sneak peek at an upcoming release...and get very excited. That's what happened when I read David Robert Anderson's new book, Losing Your Faith, Finding Your Soul.
To be honest, he had me at the preface, where he opened with one of my favorite poems:
Last night, as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.
—Antonio Machado, translated by Robert Bly
Anderson closed his preface with this:
The irony is, [our] breakdowns and failures are God's repeated attempts to offer us grace and mercy, a new way of being. Mostly, though, we are grace-resistant, too good for mercy. We double down on that old muscular faith and stand our ground.
Yet God is relentless, infiltrating our lives through the very cracks and gashes we are frantic to repair, to plaster over. '"The world breaks everyone," Hemingway could see, '"and afterwards many are strong at the broken places."
All it takes is one inkling of the divine paradox, that we are saved by our losses, and the whole field reverses. Some strange mystery is at work here, a power you did not invoke and cannot comprehend. Your only job, the most difficult you have ever attempted, is to keep saying yes. The bees of heaven are circling. Let them come.
If you feel safe, comfortable, and certain in your faith, Anderson's book is not for you. But if you find yourself at a spiritual crossroads or crisis, I highly recommend it. I wish I'd read such a book some years back when I couldn't reconcile what my heart believed was true about God with what my head had been taught I had to believe.
Anderson might have helped me bridge the gap sooner.
Despite what the title may seem to suggest, his goal is not to help you lose God or your faith—just the opposite. He writes, "This is not a book to take away your faith. It is a tract that meets you down at the soul's Lost Luggage counter, to show you how a renewed and deeper faith grows precisely through loss and disillusionment."
In a happy coincidence, the proverb in my daily Bible for today was this:
"My son, eat honey, for it is good,
and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste.
Know that wisdom is such to your soul;
if you find it, there will be a future,
and your hope will not be cut off. Proverbs 24:13-14."
Wisdom is like honey to your soul. But I'm convinced this kind of soul wisdom doesn't come from trying harder. Or from doubling down on old assumptions or beliefs that no longer hold up.
I think it comes from allowing God's grace to work through our questions, our doubts—and yes, even our worst mistakes—to make of them something sweet and good.
So yes. Today, let the bees of heaven come!