Jeffrey Tacklind is the young pastor of Church by the Sea in Laguna Beach, a lively California mix of a congregation, from Pentecostals to Episcopalians. From his pastoring experience and his wide-reaching mind and heart, he has written an equally lively, readily accessible guide for spiritual growth: The Winding Path of Transformation: Finding Yourself Between Glory and Humility.
The core metaphor of Tacklind’s book is this: We human beings long for glory, emulating the heroes of faith and myth, and for Christians, aspiring to live like Christ. But, as life unfolds, this dream of glory is brought down to earth, to humility, by our human failures, frustrations, and shortcomings. Where we truly live and grow, he discovers, is in the often messy “middle place”; in the intersection of glory and humility; between the “exuberant beginnings” and the “victorious endings” of our faith; in the details of the here and now, where we show up as we truly are to be guided and transformed by God as God truly is, in loving, intimate relationship with us.
The book develops this theme of the middle way in each of its four parts: In part 1, “Glory and Humility,” we are led to exploring what our true calling may be as we find our right size, right service under God’s care (yes, this calling may be smaller than we had envisioned, but it may also be greater). In part 2, “Necessary Seasons,” the author reflects on the rhythms of desolation and renewal in the spiritual life, and how we learn in humility to live by God’s time for healing, and not our own. In part 3, “The Slow Opening,” the author shares, from his own experience, in the small and often surprising events of life, how transformation actually happens within us (though we may not realize until later). And finally, in part 4, “The Way of the River,” the author describes the image of God as a river, a force of life flowing through, binding, and sustaining all the polarities of our life into one transformative flow: glory and humility; desolation and renewal; the small view and the large, leading us over time, if we are willing, into a life of joyful communion with God.
At the end of each chapter, Jeffrey Tacklind brings queries to engage us in the transformational journey along with him, queries suitable for an individual reader but also for a group who may read the book together. In the afterword, Tacklind shares his hope for readers:
My hope for you is that this book has invited you to look at your own heart. . . . That the questions and reflections . . . would become themes and useful tools throughout the seasons of your life. That the pauses to examine your heart would become a necessary and cherished part of your rhythm. And that participating in the deep, slow work of God would become one of the intimate desires of your heart.
For Friends, The Winding Path of Transformation offers a searching and wide-ranging vision of spiritual growth that can enrich and enliven our own.