I recently found a piece of writing that describes the personal experience of the journey towards faith brilliantly!
I share it in the spirit of another quote of William’s, “We read to know we are not alone.” May it touch you today on your wondering journey…
“Roddy Dalgliesh sits at the end of a pew at the back of the Union Chapel, which is just a few streets from his home. He’s taken to dropping in here, not for the services or the concerts, but for the quietness. He needs space to think, and the Union Chapel is a grand space.
For prayer too, perhaps. Roddy is reluctant to call what passes through his mind by the name of prayer because he has no clear notion of a recipient of his prayer. He has left unbelief behind, but has not yet arrived at belief. This is what is so hard to explain to others. He is embarked on a great adventure.
Keep thyself as a stranger and a pilgrim upon the earth*.
Roddy finds these words profoundly moving. They move him emotionally, but also physically, too. They make him want to move. They make him want to disburden himself and pass as lightly as a bird or a cloud over the landscape. He want to cut all ties, to shed all responsibilities, to float free. Impossible, of course. But when the longing struck him, when he stopped, literally, in his tracks – he was walking down Ludgate Hill at the time, heading for the tube station – he knew that something he had been resisting for most of his life could be resisted no more. This life is not all there is. This world is not all there is.
Not an intellectual capitulation. There’s no theory to it. Just a sudden acceptance. His response, standing there on Ludgate Hill as the home-going crowds brushed past his motionless figure, was to say to himself: Of course. Once he had let go of his petty insistence that there be answers, which is after all no more than one of the many forms of vanity – for why should he, or anyone, understand such mysteries? – once he had humbled himself, it became easy to surrender. The act of surrender an act of trust, like falling into water. Like falling in love.
Just stop fighting. Just release the controls. Just let go…
…So much now looks different. The injustices of the world, great and small; the apparent futility of human activity; the anxieties that grate on us and make us fretful even in the midst of security and plenty; all can now take their place in an utterly changed landscape. Down in the valley the mist seems to have no end, but from the mountain top it’s no more than a puddle in the land. There is more, so much more. Maybe heaven. Maybe eternity. Maybe God.”
William Nicholson is one of my favourite authors. His bio is below. I share this here, by permission, as I know from experience how difficult is to describe these deeply intimate, personal wonderings of the heart in a way that is meaningful, helpful but without saccharine or prejudice. I think he has done it here magnificently!
I share for those also wondering but not lost – at all…
William Nicholson bio…
William Nicholson was born in 1948, and grew up in Sussex and Gloucestershire. He was educated at Downside School and Christ’s College, Cambridge, and then joined BBC Television, where he worked as a documentary film maker. There his ambition to write, directed first into novels, was channeled into television drama. His plays for television include Shadowlands and Life Story , both of which won the BAFTA Best Television Drama award in their year; other award-winners were Sweet As You Are and The March . In 1988 he received the Royal Television Society’s Writer’s Award. His first play, an adaptation of Shadowlands for the stage, was Evening Standard Best Play of 1990, and went on to a Tony Award winning run on Broadway. He was nominated for an Oscar for the screenplay of the film version, which was directed by Richard Attenborough and starred Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger.