I thought it was going to be about smells and bells, about liturgy. I thought it was going to be the story of someone who is so entrenched, so comfortable, in their Baptist roots that they would never dream of becoming a liturgical worshiper. I thought it was going to be a story of faith crisis, church burnout, and a healing in finding the old ways, the high church ways, the liturgical ways.
I was wrong.
Preston Yancey instead wrote a book about something I know well: the silence of God.
Tables in the Wilderness is a book that I unexpectedly found so much of my own story in. Both my past and my present chapters were echoed back from these pages of Preston’s memoir. I found my younger, pretentious self in the pages, and the faith crisis that emerged from that time. I found myself now, in the waiting for God to do or say something, anything. I found the bright spots of coming home to written prayers for a time, and the relief of learning to pray again.
Preston’s story is set against the back drop of his time in college, and the journey he made from praying best in an Episcopal church to becoming confirmed Episcopalian, but the story is much more about God’s absence, God’s presence, and Preston’s young, human responses to God. It’s a story we can all relate to because we all have oh so young and oh so human responses to God. The search for God in his absence is something we all know well, and the brightness of his voice returning is something we all long for. This is the memoir Preston lays before us to enjoy.
It’s not a neat little package wrapped up for our consumption though. It is messy. It ends so open-ended that you are left knowing Preston still lives with the silence of God, just like I am right now. It’s comforting to know that someone else has a story that is not yet finished, that is still in process, that is still messy.
Preston is a good writer. Sometimes he gets carried away with his prose, but there again I can relate. Over all, this book is as enjoyable to read as much as it is easy to relate to. It is very much a rich meal laid out for all who know the silence of God to enjoy.
Here is to all of us being found by the silence and the voice of God.