A Review of Still by Jennifer Harris Dault

There are some books whose stories have you racing through pages, on the back of a prized horse that is determined to beat his competitors. Lauren Winner’s Still is not one of those books. It requires soaking, steeping, simmering. It you are anything like me, it also requires facial tissues. Its short vignettes tell the story of a woman who has experienced heartbreak—or perhaps the knowledge of causing heartbreak. Somewhere in the aftermath of a divorce, God seems to be missing, silent, hidden.

During Lent—this slow, weary journey to the cross—Still whispers to me. I have often said that I am never ready for Lent. I feel and fight each difficult step, knowing and believing that grief is important, but wanting to jump ahead to the joyous celebration of Easter. Still embraces the pain of the middle place, while hoping, praying, yearning to see God revealed in the world. We see glimpses now and again—the woman who takes Communion on behalf of her husband whose illness makes it impossible for him to eat, the friend who blesses the rooms of her house to make it feel safe again after her divorce, the gifts of writers who encourage and inspire, God’s voice speaking—finally—in the midst of a particularly ungripping church service.

As Lauren Winner’s words pour forth from written page, I feel comforted of an ache I didn’t know I had. Churches often make it difficult to speak of the struggle of faith, but here in Still, the thoughts and emotions that sometimes haunt all of us are given voice. That voice offers hope and guidance to all of us who have experienced a “mid-faith crisis.” It gives evidence that we are not alone—not only are we not alone in our thoughts and feelings, but we have not been left by the Hidden God.

Jennifer Harris Dault is a soon-to-be graduate of Central Baptist Theological Seminary. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri and is the leader of Baptist Women in Ministry of Missouri.