This is a book about the heart’s desire – it’s longing. We all feel it. The longing may show up in the early morning hours, during times of sorrow, or unexpectedly in a movie or book. This longing can never quite have fulfillment whether it’s sought through an experience, art form, or a person.
Why do we have this longing? Why does it never seem to be fully satiated?
Brent Curtis and John Eldredge define romance as “the yearning set within us, the longing for transcendence; the desire to be part of something larger than ourselves, to be part of something out of the ordinary that is good.”
This book’s premise is that each of us is part of a sacred romance. We all have a sacred longing because it was placed there by God. It’s meant to drive us towards God himself. Towards home.
The authors describe God as not just the author of our stories, but as the main character through the person of Jesus Christ. Art, beauty, music, poetry, literature all provide glimpses of the country we all long for.
It’s quite a premise and one worth considering. I re-read this book as part of this year’s reading list. The first time I read it was in 1998, exactly 22 years ago. I refer to this as my hinge book – the book all other books in my library hinge upon. Had I not read this book, I would not have read any of the others.
This book had a profound impact on my life. Up to reading this in 1998, I didn’t have a clear grasp on how the heart fit into the equation. I pursued faith mostly from my mind. I was learning as much as I could. This book introduced the idea of a connection point between my faith, art, and my inner longings. I had not been able to connect these before reading this book. It provided a context in which to approach the great works.
It produced a desire in me to read the best literature, study the best art, listen to the greatest composers all to encounter these little glimpses of the divine. This book gave me permission to do so.
After reading The Sacred Romance, I began reading the classics. Books like Crime and Punishment, Moby Dick, The Scarlet Letter, The Picture of Dorian Grey. I wanted to see how other authors described this longing. How a similar storyline seemed to weave through my favorite movies, stories, and music.
In rereading this book, I was curious to see if it would have the same impact as in 1998. It didn’t, but I think that’s mainly because it shifted my mindset so much in 1998 that it’s hard to go back to the mindset before reading this book. If anything, rereading it showed me how much it has influenced me over the years.