I have always loved Poetry magazine without realizing what an inspiring story lies behind the seesaw life experience of its editor for the past decade, Christian Wiman.
His new book of essays, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux), reveals that even through the secularism of his college days, which led to disillusionment and a break with his childhood church in West Texas, he never actually lost his faith. It just lay dormant until love and a bout with cancer unearthed it.
In an interview with the magazine Christianity Today (January/February, 2013), Wiman describes how religious feeling went underground for him. In the midst of all the contradictory influences and emotions that besieged him, he suffered a writing drought such as he had never known before.
Then, eight months after he had fallen “suddenly and utterly” in love with the woman who is now his wife, he received a surprise diagnosis of cancer, and he was plunged back into despair.
He and his wife found themselves saying little prayers together before dinner and one day wandered into a church. A couple of days later he started to write. It wasn’t so much a “return” to Christianity, he explains, as an assent to the faith that had long been latent in him. Continue reading