Verbum Domini manet in aeternum, declares the subscript to the Wycliffe College crest: “the Word of the Lord remains forever.” As a part-time MTS student taking “forever” to get through the degree, I feel a certain participation in this notion. Eventually one gets around to taking all of the compulsory courses, including, in my case, Dr Joseph Mangina’s “Foundations of Theological Inquiry.” On the solid reading list was Lauren Winner’s Girl Meets God.
Reading and discussing her spiritual autobiography, more opportunity than task, took us into worlds both familiar and hidden. We found Winner to be a lover of books, an accomplished academic with a razor-sharp mind, and yet a woman who speaks with disarming honesty about her own life and search for God. Her humanity engages the reader. There is something accessible, contemporary, and post-modern about her quest, even though it is pursued in a setting unlikely to be familiar to most of us. Winner is the daughter of a lukewarm Reform Jewish father and a lapsed Southern Baptist mother—not the obvious starting point for the standard spiritual journey. Her description of her conflicted search and conversion experience moves the heart. As in all good stories in this genre, like the Confessions of St. Augustine, the thread that is woven throughout the text is the still, small voice of the Divine Suitor in whom “we live and move and have our being.” As such, it is also our story as persons in the Body of Christ.
A remarkable aspect of Winner’s book is the congruency she describes between Jewish and Anglican/Episcopal liturgical forms, both of which clothe the self-bestowal of the One who has given Himself first in Torah, then on the Cross. Here we encounter God sacramentally. Here is the profoundly personal call of Him “whose eye is on the sparrow” in each of our individual human situations. Like Augustine and Winner, we too are drawn into a search for God. When we find Him, we discover that it was He who was breaking into our lives all along, enfolding us in His loving, reconciling embrace.