Review

A Delicate Fade

by Ben DeVries

Twenty-something musician Ben DeVries knows firsthand the searing pain of a "dark night of the soul." In this stream-of-consciousness narrative, he invites the reader to explore with him a journey through doubt to glimmerings of hope. His journey isn't straightforward linear reading. Rather, DeVries swirls together a kaleidoscope of observations, images, angst, poem fragments and quotes that are best taken in small bites rather than gulped.

DeVries grew up the son of evangelical Christian missionaries, where God was as much a part of life as breathing.

all my life I've heard about salvation, how it can find us only when we need it the most. I've heard about brokenness and how God can heal us only when we're breaking apart and small. I've known this but not that it would happen to me and not that it could feel so much like pain or that need could feel so much like despair.

Yet, in his battle with depression, he questions the meaning of his life.

I wonder if this is all my life is: a default survival and some days not even that. it seems different from what it was supposed to be and from what I asked for. maybe I don't want it anymore.

He knows with his head that God still exists, yet in his heart he feels the aching void of the absence of God's presence.

I've always been told that God is what I need the most, that only he can fill this hole inside of me. but it keeps getting bigger and more removed from the rest of life, and even he doesn't seem to want to be there when I need him the most.

As he shares quotes from such diverse sources as Rainer Maria Rilke, Lewis Carroll, Leo Tolstoy, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and Nine Inch Nails, DeVries seeks reassurance that others have experienced what he has and that his brokenness is temporary. He expresses gut-wrenching vulnerability, although some passages flirt with self-absorption.

some days I hold on to sadness because it's my only comfort. it's there when everyone else goes away, and I'm lonely then but not as much as when they dismiss me when I need their empathy the most.

Yet, readers who have experienced the same unrelenting dark night of the soul will forgive him for these moments as they empathize with DeVries' agonized, candid observations on suffering and his wrestling with doubt.

all my life I've heard about salvation, how it can find us only when we need it the most. I've heard about brokenness and how God can heal us only when we're breaking apart and small. I've known this but not that it would happen to me and not that it could feel so much like pain or that need could feel so much like despair.

In his search for authenticity as a creative writer and musician of faith, DeVries discovers that:

we think that the farther we go into the spiritual life the more we will fit the mold of someone who has the right to be here. but our position was always a gift to begin with and nothing is changed about that now. we're still little children, but at least we have a place to belong.

DeVries refreshingly eschews easy answers. His courageous exploration of the darker side of faith should resonate with readers looking for a companion to walk alongside them on their own journeys through the dark night of the soul to the light of God's love.

Reviewed by Cindy Crosby on November 13, 2011

A Delicate Fade
by Ben DeVries