The soul’s winter (8)

A few days ago, I came upon yet another evidence in my own life that what Martin Marty has referred to as the “wintry sort of spirituality” is very real.  This evidence was in the form of a letter written to a friend about 17-18 years ago.  The letter starkly showed the sense of distance and deep dissatisfaction that arises—and lingers for various lengths of time—in me.

Below is the last in a series of excerpts I’ve shared from Marty’s book on the “wintry” absence and distance of the soul.

Today the choice seems to be either dereliction—waiting for No One—or summery spirituality, which does not allow for honest searching of the lonely heart.  All these Psalms mix the two, as if for the wintry trip one needs extra stores of warmth and energy.  (152)

[In re Ps. 49]  Why a harp?  No doubt there is a connection between the search for wisdom through inspiration and the act of singing. . . .  The poetic context shows that where philosophy gives out, inspiration begins.  What cannot be explained can be addressed, at least in song.  (155)

The farmer shows his intentions by deciding to winterfallow a field. . . .
The believer moved by a wintry sort of spirituality may choose the fallow heart with good purpose.  It may be that she is not ready for the grain or fruit, not able to cope with bounty.  The summery sort of piety that advertises itself in the contemporary world is full of instant promise.  (161)

Summery sorts of piety should not be seen as inauthentic or second-rate.  They simply are not to be privileged.  They have no monopoly on the ways of the heart or, from the psalmists’ points of view, the ways of God toward the heart.  (162)

from ch. 8, A Cry of Absence: Reflections for the Winter of the Heart 
(c) 1983-1997 Martin E. Marty

For previous offerings from this same book, click here, here, and/or here.

If any reader has no idea what the experience of spiritual winter is all about, I hope s/he will read at least the last of the above, former posts.


2 thoughts on “The soul’s winter (8)

  1. godschildrenorg 08/20/2015 / 9:55 am

    This touched my soul deeply. I am in some sort of winter of the soul – I know God is with me, will work all things out for good later, is preparing me through trials for better service later. Maybe I’m glorifying Him by remaining true to Him in the midst of these challenges and my weakness? Those who live in summery sort of spirituality probably keep themselves busy to stay out of their feelings. Often beneath all those summery feelings is pain that they are not ready to deal with.

    Life is slowly ebbing away from one of my friends. The grief I am feeling over her passing is touching a well of unresolved grief over losing Dan. Grief for her husband and family is stronger because I know the struggles that lie before them. Perhaps the good that will come as a result of touching my pain again is that I will let go of some more of my sorrow…and in time…be an encouragement or strength for them in days to come.

    Keep writing, and praying! God is using you in ways you may never realize, Praying for you and yours…curious what God has planned for you.

    I love y’all, AA



    • Brian Casey 08/25/2015 / 7:11 pm

      This was the last installment in this little series, and I trust that a few (3? 13? 33?) who needed to hear/read it with me have benefited. Glad you found it resonating. Well, actually, not glad, really. The ability Martin Marty has to put a good lens on what many of us experience is helpful, but it’s anything but gladdening.


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