‘While we may feel like jigsaw puzzles thrown in the air, or wonder who we are and why we’re here, the one who made the heavens and the seas made us by his infinite wisdom too. The same hands that made the galaxies crafted us in the womb, making us as significant as the stars.’
How beautiful is this?
I wasn’t sure I would love this book, because I’m not always keen on ‘pilgrimage’ stories, following the writer on a journey while we are invited into their thoughts. Yet this one resonated with me in deeper places, and drew me right into this particular journey. I have a particular fondness for Lindisfarne and the North East, and I found the author’s descriptions evocative of the wild beauty of this area. I wanted to be there with these two pilgrims – Sheridan and DJ – as they trod a path from Lindisfarne to Durham, recounting something of the history of Christianity, and so much more besides.
It’s written in present tense, which for me brings a sense of immediacy, of being able to do just that – to go on this pilgrimage as well. There is so much to think on along the way, and the reflections on how life doesn’t always go quite how we’d like it to are actually brought into even starker life through the descriptions of all that is around, and the retellings of history which are scattered through the text. It’s written with humour and lightness, a definite page-turner, and yet underpinned with a profundity that can be hard to pin down, and is often lacking in other books which purport to help with difficult times. I’m grateful for Sheridan’s honesty in sharing of himself and his story, and his conclusions chime greatly with me: it’s in the loss of our identity we find out who we are, in the tough times life throws at us where we are formed and made into who we are created to be.
As someone who sometimes feels like life has handed a bitter pill, I warmed to the words in this book, and they led me right back into the heart of God – the heart of the one who formed me, who loves me passionately, and who walks with me through my pain. Sheridan talks of the pain of childlessness: I haven’t experienced this particular agony, but the way he writes of how he felt that somehow, his faith wasn’t enough, that it should have moved mountains and didn’t, that somehow, he wasn’t spiritual enough, that compared with others, he wasn’t enough, resonates so greatly with me as someone who lives with chronic illness. I want to read all the words of this book slowly and allow them to sink into my soul. The words of his ‘new creed’ alone are enough to transport my soul into a place of profound joy, yet rooted in the bitterness of lived reality. There are great words in here; read them and take them in.
The way Sheridan writes of how he felt that somehow, his faith wasn’t enough, that it should have moved mountains and didn’t, that somehow, he wasn’t spiritual enough, that compared with others, he wasn’t enough, resonates so greatly with me as someone who lives with chronic illness.
At the end the author includes a reflection guide, which is helpful for taking the material and applying it to our lives. This could be useful both for personal reflection and small group discussion – I’m hoping to use it in my group, as there is much that is helpful and thought provoking.
In the end, this book isn’t a book of easy answers or solutions to a problem, but a book of parts, of a pilgrimage narrative interspersed with observations, reflections and stories. But I am most fond of books that don’t try to give too many answers, as most of my readers will know! It is lyrical, inspiring and profound, and I would recommend it to anyone who doesn’t always feel like their loose ends tie up or their lives make complete sense, and for anyone who feels like they have been left in pain and in difficulty, and don’t quite get why. It’s a book which will lead us back into the heart of God, reminding us that the hand that spins galaxies formed us and loves us.
It’s a book which will lead us back into the heart of God, reminding us that the hand that spins galaxies formed us and loves us.
I received a free copy of this title, but this is my own fair and honest review.
If you like this kind of book, you might like my new book, Catching Contentment (IVP, 2018) which explores some similar themes – how can we find peace and contentment when life doesn’t turn out how we’d hope? See more on this page.
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