“I realize what a strange in-between place I am in. The Young Woman inside has turned to go, but the Old Woman has not shown up.”
― Sue Monk Kidd
“I've tried to shield myself from life and inhabit my own small, safe corner; but there's no immunity from life.”
― Ann Kidd Taylor
“I realize I'm trying to work out the boundaries. How to love her without interfering. How to step back and let her have her private world and yet still be an intimate part of it. When she talks about her feelings, I have to consciously tell myself she wants me to receive them, not fix them.”
― Sue Monk Kidd
Such were some of my favorite quotes from the book I finished about a month ago called Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story. Traveling is a book that gives its readers a snapshot into the relationship shared between Sue, the mother in her early 50s and Ann the daughter a recent college as they both navigate through life transitions. And as they do so, figure out what the next step of their relationship with one another might be as well.
I was first introduced to the author Sue Monk Kidd almost 10 years ago during a time in my life when my theology was in transition. A friend passed along the book, Dance of the Dissent Daughter. It was a time in my life I really had no idea what feminist theology was all about. At that time, reading this text opened my eyes to many of the oppressive male imagery in scripture and in Christian tradition. This book became a conversation tool, among many others, that helped me say "yes" to the serious study awaiting me in seminary. I wanted to figure out how female images of the divine fit into (or not) what I had already been taught about God.
So, being a fan, I was eager to see what Sue Monk Kidd"s latest memoir had in store for its readers, but this time with chapters from her daughter, Ann. And though the book felt emotionally intense at times (as if you are literally reading their journals), with breaks for thought and reflection, I paged through it quickly and soon passed my copy on to a friend. As a budding writer myself, I appreciated the call story both Sue and Ann experienced in their travels to write and the call to write together. Their journey of renegotiating boundaries, passion, relationships and hope read very authentically to me. I believe the experiences of many women are found in these pages-- just with different details. And, I left my experience of reading it as any good book does-- as if I'd made new friends that I hoped would share more of their story with me one day.
Most of all Traveling with Pomegranates made me think about these bigger picture things:
1. The desire in all of us for deeper relationship with "mother" and "daughter" figures in our lives as women. We are never too old to want a mother or a daughter in our lives.
2. The importance of shared wisdom passed on between the generations even as differing of perspectives make it hard for us to relate sometimes.
3. The joy that rises from the gift of travel. Sometimes it takes us getting out of our normal environment to really see our lives as they really are.
4. Doing with your life what is a "necessary fire" within us, not just what pays the bills.
5. Courage to not just do things the way they've always been done. Who says we are not the one to blaze a new trail?
6. The difficulty we all have of saying "no" when this "no" comes at the cost of what others expected from us. We are pleasing creatures. But if want our soul to live, we must break free of the obligations and the shoulds.
7. Writing takes time and drafting and more drafting as well as being with other writers. The more you get into writing, the more you realize you the only way to get better is to write more. And some more.
Anyone else read this text and want to chat about it?
Next up tomorrow: In the Santuary of Outcasts by Neil White