When I pause to trace the narrative of how I was able to bumble my way through the publishing labyrinth and into the writing vocation, the generosity of a handful of people (three to be precise) lead the story. Margaret Feinberg is one of those three.
If I recall, we first met on a writing project, a series of books I was editing for a new publishing house. The publisher passed along chapter contributions I was to consider, and Margaret’s words rose to the top of the pile. I was intrigued because she had a richness, an intimacy, to her voice that I’d seen precious little of among Christian authors. I immediately liked Margaret for two other unrelated reasons: (1) at the time, she was a ski instructor in Crested Butte (thus, living one of my second lives), and (2) if existing vocabulary didn’t fit her work’s needs, she’d simply craft her own words. For our project, Margaret concocted Inbetween, which she described as the “place between here and there. A piece of ground in the middle of take-off and landing…[where] paths are lined with sealed envelopes and foggy dreams.” Good, right? I’m pretty sure that a couple years later I plagiarized, using Inbetween without appropriate credit. Margaret, this is my public apology.
Over the next few years, Margaret had my back. She encouraged my writing. We commiserated over the lay of the publishing land. I remember several calls where we walked one another through potentially treacherous publishing negotiations. I doubt that two of my books would have ever seen the light of day if Margaret hadn’t been on my side. Margaret introduced me to Leif, her very cool husband – and they even allowed me to crash their house in Juneau, where I enjoyed the Alaska experience and watched their dog Hershey (it was on that trip that Margaret introduced me to Madeleine Peyroux, and I will be forever grateful).
Of course, in the decade since we met, Margaret has gone on to smashing success. Beyond selling over 600,000 copies of her various books and publishing efforts, Christianity Today named Margaret one of the 50 women shaping culture and church – and she’s received multiple other accolades and descriptors. You can read all about them on her bio.
Amid all this, though, what matters most to me is that Margaret is the same sincere and love-drenched Margaret I met ten years ago. Every once in a while, Margaret and Leif remind me that they pray for me, and I believe them. Margaret writes what she has come to believe – and she writes those things that she hopes to believe even more. Margaret writes as a woman who has seen something true, something she must tell us.
Margaret’s new book Wonderstruck has this quality. In it, she narrates the ways God found her anew, the ways God took her by surprise. Margaret began her traverse with these lines:
I have a hunch that I’m not the only one who has misplaced the marvel of a life lived with God. Faith invites us into an enchanting journey—one marked by mysteries of divine beauty, holy courage, irrepressible hope, unending love. But in my life, any sense of the splendor of God had faded. I knew I needed God to reveal himself once again to awaken me from my sleep, to disturb me from my slumber. And so I prayed for wonder.
I like the idea of wonder, very much. I also like how, in Wonderstruck, Margaret recommends the practice of three-word prayers. I can manage that.
Thank you, Margaret, for living generously. I hope many, many others receive the generosity you freely give.