I started Christian Wiman’s memoir My Bright Abyss shortly before Ascension Day, with the hymns of Christ’s rising triumph a week or so away from being sung. The timing lessened some of the dread I felt over beginning a book I knew to be written under a “deepening shadow of death” – the author’s diagnosis of a rare incurable cancer. After reading Wiman’s poetry, essays, and several interviews, I knew I was beginning a heavy journey – one that would confront affliction and doubt, not just echo the songs of joyful praise.
Wiman describes his life as “broken open” by cancer, and calls Abyss an effort to “speak more clearly” of how he believes in God. “How do you answer that burn of being?” he asks in the preface. “[And] What might it mean for your life – and for your death – to acknowledge that persistent ghost?”
As with many…
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