Q & R: Grief?

Here’s the Q:

My husband and I recently read ‘A New Kind of Christianity’, and are planning to hear you speak this Saturday in Edmonton.
We appreciated your book in more ways than I can write. God used it to continue to nudge/guide us in a direction He has been leading for many years. Your book brought out a plethora of emotions. We feel so much hope and excitement to pass onto our four young children a fresh portion of faith. We have long been finding some aspects of the faith we had grown up in had become hard and stale, to us. After reading your book, we are hopeful to pass along a burning faith-torch that loves God, His people, and His creation with great reverance.
Your book has also brought out many other emotions as well… fear, doubt, and at times, a profound grief. I’m not sure why or where this grief is coming from. Is it the loss of my childhood faith I am feeling? Is it a fear that God is unknowable? Is it the loss of one faith before another is formed to replace it? Have you, or any other individuals you have encountered, found this deep grief to be part of the faith-growing journey as well? Any advice for a fellow searcher would be valuable.
Amidst all these swirling emotions, God has continually spoken a poem of hope to my heart. It whispers to me that His perfume will permeate through searching, and the fragrance found will be magnificent. Thank you Brian, and may your search be fragrant.
I took off petal after petal, as if you were a rose,
in order to see your soul,
and I didn’t see it.
However- everything around-
horizons of fields and oceans-
everything, even what was infinite,
was filled with a perfume,
immense and living.
by: Juan Ramon Jimenez

R: Thanks so much for this amazing poem. I know it will mean a lot to many readers of this blog, as it has to me. Many of us feel we have been “deconstructing” God petal by petal – actually, our ideas or theories about God – but the very act of searching for the reality of God seems to put us into touch with God’s fragrance – if we remember that God is not an idea to be conceptualized, but a loving, personal, holy Reality to be experienced.
On this grief, yes, I think it is a shared experience. Scott Peck captured a prime reason for this grief … I actually wrote briefly about his insight at the loss of a comfortable and familiar paradigm here.
But it’s not just the loss of a paradigm that we’re grieving. It’s also the loss of “the old self” that lived in that paradigm. Here’s a quote from Peck:

Since mentally healthy human beings must grow, and since giving up or loss of the old self is an integral part of the process of mental and spiritual growth, depression is a normal and basically healthy phenomenon…
~M. Scott Peck M.D., Wisdom from The Road Less Traveled, 2001.

We might add that we grieve the loss of the god of that paradigm too … which makes the discovery of a new vision of God all the more important. Otherwise we have loss and no gain … (this is all resonant with my next book, which will be on the spiritual life, title tba soon.)
Thanks for bringing up this reality of grief. It really deserves some more reflection and conversation, which I hope a number of bloggers will take up in the days ahead. I know it will be on my mind and in my heart, thanks to your note.