Brianna Van Dyke, the editor of Ruminate, recently gifted my husband and me with Bearing the Mystery: Twenty Years of Image.
The book is a collection of short stories, art and poetry from Image, a journal of art, faith and mystery. Though I enjoy writing short stories and sometimes poetry, I am not much a reader of either and tend towards novels. Finding myself between books one night, and in that desperation I feel when I don’t have something to read before going to bed, I picked up Bearing the Mystery and dove into a short essay by Annie Dillard, “How to Live,” and a short story by Clyde Edgerton, “Debra’s Flap and Snap.”
What I love in stories was immediately there – the intensity and complexity of the human experience shared through beautiful words. For several nights, I enjoyed the excitement of picking up Bearing the Mystery, not knowing what I was going to read, and finding a variety of voices and stories.
Without fail, I found a contribution that was satisfying – pleasing, enjoyable, memorable, and just superbly written. I continue to remember images and emotions from Deborah Joy Corey’s “Discovery” and Mary Kenagy Mitchell’s “Loud Lake.” I was a late comer to the church, becoming a believer in my early 20’s.
One of the turn offs of the Christian religion before I was a believer (and even to this day) was the seeming lack of depth in some modern writing about faith and by people of faith, the book shelf after book shelf of shallow, sentimental writing that I found in Christian book stores. It seemed as if rather than freeing artists to share the truth of the human experience and faith that these writers were limited by their faith.
As I’ve grown in my faith, I’ve seen more and more the grittiness of Christianity, the get down and dirtiness, that slick covers miss. The importance of laying it out there, being “real,” has grown. Through the work of such entities as Image and Ruminate, I find artists who write and compose and share the truth of the human experience and a dedication to great art in the world of faith.. And I am lifted up. I have recently begun a new novel and placed Bearing the Mystery on my bedside table for another time. I look forward to returning to it.
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