“So my thread is spinning new course. And my thread, like my dreams, never lies, never leads me astray. Still I cannot stop thinking how brave I will have to be to follow it.” — Sue Monk Kidd
The Secret Life of Bees introduced me to author Sue Monk Kidd. Next I picked up her bold title, The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman’s Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine. Opening the pages again today, nearly ten years later, a vivid memory of reading in my Fort Collins, Colorado home, while Justin and Jim watched a movie, shimmers in me. Marking pages 122-126, barely breathing. Rereading, breathing, rereading. Recognition, affirmation, and challenge reverberated within me. Their movie played on while my world shivered and pivoted. I now see how those words arrived to mentor and guide me. I was not fully aware how deep and far ashore that wave of printed ink would reach. I likely would not have been brave enough for the next step if I could read into the future.
“At forty (or sometimes thirty or sixty), women grow ripe for feminist spiritual conception. By then we’ve been around long enough to grow disenchanted with traditional female existence, with the religious experience women have been given to live out” (11). This awareness was already awake in me. However, it was the deeper implications that rocked my world–to trust the power within me, without a need to rely on outer constructs to validate and guide, or give permission. I was still active in church ministry at this time, had authored a book, been a ghost writer for the US Catholic Bishops. Something pulsed deeper within my spirit, and I’d been ignoring it. Reading Kidd’s words, I faced myself, too.
“She gave me a long deliberate look. ‘If you write to please others or write for success or stardom or money, you’re writing out of your ego. When are you going to write out of your Self?’ I could not answer her. … ‘You’re outgrowing the old way,’ she said. ‘You’re being asked to create from your feminine soul.’ …I would have to start over. I would lose so much …” (123).
I realized I too was invited to write, speak, teach, lead, and live from my feminine soul. And that Self would be in conflict with my work-life and my marriage. Fortunately I had trusted friends, and a good spiritual guide. Within months I tendered my resignation as Director of Campus Ministry at Blessed John XXIII Catholic University Center. I had no plan, except acceptance and trust that it was time for me to leave. My heart was shattered, but I was holding onto myself, and God was center stage.
2014: I’m 23 pages into The Invention of Wings, a new novel by Sue Monk Kidd. Her novel The Mermaid Chair is powerful, and misunderstood–it’s best read with a Jungian archetypal perspective. In 2010, I’d moved to Alaska, and with my marriage irretrievably ending, I stayed up late each night reading her powerful feminine memoir, Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother and Daughter Journey to the Sacred Places of Greece, Turkey, and France. I could trust the ups and downs of my journey, the disillusionment and doubt, and inner strength and wisdom. Both Kidd and her coauthor and daughter Ann Kidd Taylor offered authentic guidance.
Sue Monk Kidd is an author who continues to guide and delight me. Her writing, in particular The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, made a significant, positive difference in my life, and gave me courage. I am so grateful.
I wonder: Is there a line from a movie or page from a book that knocked your world upside right?