Good Middle


Between any person and any other person is the middle. What happens in the middle makes a significant difference. For not one of us ever experiences another person without first passing—physically, emotionally, spiritually—through the middle. Picture the middle by looking over this simple illustration:



Any other person

Think for a moment about all that happens in the middle. Take a simple relationship, a husband and wife. Consider everything between them. They see each other, hear each other, touch each other—bodies are in the middle. Usually they are wearing clothes—fashion is in the middle. Usually they are somewhere—a house and parks and all manner of created spaces are in the middle. He was the first child of three and she was an only child—all the experiences of their families of origin are in the middle. She speaks English and so does he—language is in the middle. But she is from New England and he is from the Pacific Northwest—cosmopolitanism and hipster culture are in the middle. She grew up Catholic and he grew up Baptist though now they attend a Presbyterian church—religious expression is in the middle.

The list could be endless. There is so much middle to get through before getting to another person, it is a wonder any of us knows any one else at all. But somehow we do. Even, sometimes our relationships thrive. When they do, I like to think of it this way: There’s some good middle happening.

The truth is I am blunderer. But so is everyone else (except God, of course) who I try to get along with. Odds are if two blunderers try to make friends, it is going to be hard. But many of us have best friends. Where there are best friends, there’s some good middle happening. And so it is with all kinds of relationships. Where there is a happy marriage, there’s some good middle happening. Where there are loving parents and loving children, there’s some good middle happening. Where there are friendly neighbors, there’s some good middle happening. Where there are flourishing students, there’s some good middle happening. Where there is a healthy church communion, there’s some good middle happening. And so on, and so on.

Now, it is wisely said that the only person I can change is myself. If one of my relationships sours, I cannot fix it by fixing the other person. This is true. Yet, though I cannot change another person, it does not follow that I cannot change anything but myself. I can do some work in the middle. In fact, the middle is where the greatest work we people do gets done.

Artwork and stories and songs and histories—all that we do—occurs in the middle between persons. The middle is the locale of creation, and also reconciliation. We build muddy bogs or cobblestone paths in the middle; means to hinder or help us draw close to each other.

Dave is an author, educator, and advocate of living simply. Dave has spoken nationally and internationally about simplicity. He has appeared in Time Magazine, Mother Jones Magazine, the London Times, and The Guardian, and has been a guest of the 700 Club. His book The 100 Thing Challenge (HarperCollins, 2010) tells the story of his simple-living journey and the worldwide movement it contributed to. Dave holds an M.A. from Wheaton College and a B.A. from Moody Bible Institute. He works at Point Loma Nazarene University and lives in San Diego with his wife and three daughters.


  1. Jennifer K.

    “Middle happening” – thank you for giving a name to one of those things that makes us human….bridging those gaps between travelers on different paths…and between us mortals and the Immortal…I’d think of that as the ultimate “middle happening”..with God as the main protagonist.

    Gosh, I love this place and you people…my mind and soul always feel fuller and deeper after visiting here.

  2. Cara Strickland

    For now, all that matters in life is in the Middle, isn’t it? The middle between us and others, and between us and God. I’ll be pondering this for a while. Thank you!

  3. Abbye West Pates

    David, thank you!

    This picture of “the middle” is helpful and good. I live in an urban neighborhood where sometimes I feel like there’s so much middle that I’m always going to be stuck on the opposite shore from most of my neighbors, whose middle is so different than mine. But now I can imagine more cobblestone paths to get us through the muddy middles.

  4. Luke of Avondale

    hmm. This is interesting. Here is a thought and a question: If we are indwelled with the Holy Spirit, is that a relationship without a “middle” as it’s medium? Or do you all think there is still a “middle” there? Maybe realizing this difference could affect the way when relate to Him.

  5. David Michael Bruno


    Abbye, being a suburbanite, I shouldn’t wax philosophical about the city. Yet, I can’t help but believe there are profound opportunities for grace to show up in the middle in the hustle and bustle of urban environments.

    Luke, I think there’s “middle” even in our hearts. It seems to me, amateur theologian that I am, the only place where there’s no middle is the Trinity. But even the indwelled Holy Spirit has middle to get through, as do we, in our fellowship with God.

  6. Leanne Bruno

    Speaking of middles (which this post does beautifully), I find it interesting that David Michael Bruno seems to be the only guy writing here who has his middle name listed. Intentional, I wonder?

  7. Don Hay

    Great piece, David. I came across it while wandering through the Rabbit Room and I managed to get through the whole thing before realizing it was THE David Bruno from my old Wheaton days 🙂 Say “hi” to Leanne for me and keep up the thoughtful writings.

  8. David Michael Bruno


    Don! So glad you’re wandering through the Rabbit Room.

    That was some great middle back in the Wheaton days. If it were not for that middle (i.e. you opening your door room when I visited campus) I would not have ended up with such a wonderful wife, Leanne (Nicole) Bruno.

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