I read Micha Boyett’s new book Found: A Story of Questions, Grace, and Everyday Prayer in just under two weeks, when Cara came to stay carrying an advanced copy with her, and graciously let me borrow it from her before she’d finished so that I could soak up the words.
I took pages of notes and quotes.
Micha writes with this gentle poetic voice that spoke directly into so many of my own situations, my own fears and insecurities, my own hopes.
I discovered Micha at just the right time, a few years ago. I was in a slow shift away from the enthusiastic but shallow faith of my teen years, in search of a faith that was more substantial, something able to hold the weight of my doubt and questions and insecurities.
I’d fallen in love with liturgy one lonely evening during my first six months in Brussels, when I felt homeless and purposeless and prayerless. Until words bubbled up in me that I’d forgotten, words from my childhood days in an old stone church that I’d written off as empty and boring. “Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden…”
The words felt hot on my tongue, each one not just a sound but a deep whisper rising up from my soul. It was the taste of truth, the sound of generations of believers with all their doubts and faith and fears coming to their knees.
When I discovered her, Micha was writing about the Rule of St Benedict, and I was inspired and intrigued by this ancient spirituality which she wove so beautifully into her own life as a young mama in San Francisco. It attracted me because it was so practical and yet so full of meaning.
Micha writes in her book, “Benedict was capable of recognising that humans can be bold and faithful yet inconsistent and troubled in our deepest places.” I could identify with the anxiety she felt, wanting so much to get it right, to achieve something great for God, while being faced with her own daily inadequacies to be anything close to the ideal in mind.
While our church backgrounds are different, I felt she was telling my own story on so many pages. She writes,
“I’ve spent so much of my life valuing the radical above the ordinary. The most important jobs were the one with eternal significance. The most important tasks were spiritual… but what about now? Now I’m simple. I’m just another mum”.
I’ve another three months until I’ll officially join the world of motherhood but this feeling I know already. As a teenager I made radical promises each summer at Christian camps about how I would go out and change the world. I sang I’m going to be a history maker in this land and really thought that I would be one of the ones to succeed where others had failed. This was how I was taught, that the most worthy people were the ones doing something extraordinary.
There was a world to save and I was going to save it, with a little help from God.
Life is different from how that teenage girl imagined it would be. It feels good, but occasionally I feel guilty for being so content with how it has turned out. Shouldn’t I be doing more? Micha’s words spoke straight into my heart:
“I spent my life performing for people, for God, for myself. I have begged for a grander story than the small, beautiful life I’ve been given. Yet still, even in the longing for a more impressive existence, my ambitions have been too small. I wanted to save the world. But God wanted me to see how we was already saving it.”
This is the faith I am slowly growing into these years. A faith that is much much bigger than my own self-centred longings and ideas. A faith which is steady and sure. A faith that embraces the darkness and brokenness of the world while still believing that the light is stronger. A faith that believes God is always and already present and acting if only I would have eyes to see. A faith that realises it is not me who finds God, it is God who has found me.
This is the faith I have been waking up to.
“I am a sometimes believer, in love with Jesus. I am a mystic who can’t grip tight enough to the mystical. I long for order but can hardly make a list… I need to know how to love God when all I have to offer is my daily chaos. Mostly, I long to know a quietness in my soul, true contentment, despite my spiritual unimpressiveness. I need to believe that my simple life really is a gift and really can be holy.”
Friends, I cannot recommend Found highly enough. She weaves such sweet truth and refreshment through her own story, without attempting to tie anything off neatly (as I might have tried to). There is honest mess and failure. But there is an abundance of hope and confidence too.
This is a book about learning how to pray again, and discovering that prayer actually encompasses all of life, this ordinary life that I’m living here and now.