(Apologies to those of you who already know this story.)
I’ve been asked, more than once: when did you first have the idea for writing the book? It’s something of a joke that I don’t remember the precise moment when the idea was born.
Because the book is all about forgetfulness.
As I’ve described in the last couple of posts, I’d been on my own journey, coming out of a difficult patch in my life and faith. I’d also been reading through the Old Testament, and been struck how, particularly in Deuteronomy, God’s people are often called to remember him – not to forget all he had done for them. I had been feeling frustrated that all the things I’d learned in the past so easily slipped away from me. I had loved studying theology – and it distressed me how the things I’d engaged with so passionately had retreated somewhere in the dusty recesses of my brain.
I found I was forgetting the moments of profound revelation, the God-touches in my life – not retelling my stories but allowing them to decay until the plot was hard to find. In addition to my own fascination with how the brain works, what makes us human and the astonishing concept of my own existence – all this came together to form the idea that was Forgetful Heart. I’d had ideas for books before, but none that took hold of me in quite this way – none with that compelling force which took me from the beginning, right through the middle, until the end.
In Forgetful Heart I asked the question: are the things that take up most of our time the things we say are the most important to us? Because I find in my life the things that consume my thoughts and direct my actions are frequently things I would say are not the most important things in my life. I looked at the biblical narrative and reflected on how God remembered us in Jesus, and considered what might act as an antidote to my forgetfulness.
Our mindfulness of God is to impact our every moment – in the way we think and behave, in our actions towards others and in the whole life worship that we are called to. For those who journeyed with God in days of old, to remember God was to act in a way that their God wanted them to act. To reflect God’s character to the world around them; to act with justice, to love mercy, to be the people they were called to be. This is what it means to remember. To remember God is to act in a way that honours God, a way that reflects the love he has shown for us, in the midst of our distracted world.
In writing Forgetful Heart I explored these things and more. It was an integral part of my journey, both as writer and Christian. I still pinch myself, sometimes, surprised that someone wanted to publish it!
The book hasn’t cured me. Distraction still blinds me – it’s an effort having to look through it all, to seek something deeper. And yet I know I can never be satisfied with living in the shallows.
Forgetful Heart: remembering God in a distracted world
is published by Darton, Longman and Todd (DLT).
For reviews and where to buy, click here.