Greetings from one of the only places on the eastern side of North America that's not under some sort of cold weather warning. It's chillier than normal with a howling wind, but it could be much worse.
I spent the last few days reading Traveling with Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor. It's an interesting joint memoir by a mother and a daughter, each one writing alternate chapters, and it chronicles a time when both of them are at loose ends in terms of what to do next with their lives.
Now you likely know Sue Monk Kidd as the woman who wrote The Secret Life of Bees, but at the time covered by this memoir she has yet to write the book. She has a desire to be a novelist, but she's doubtful that she can pull it off. She's gone to a writer's conference where she had a famous author dismiss her idea and an agent ask for the manuscript when she writes it.
The two women travel to sacred sites in Greece and France and wrestle with life's big questions. The mother has just turned 50, while the daughter is in her early 20's, just out of undergraduate school. They meet interesting people, and they learn interesting history--but what I found most interesting was the process by which Sue Monk Kidd found the courage to write the book that called her name.
She listens to her intuition and offers prayers--both techniques are instrumental to her success. But she also finds the courage to begin writing, to keep writing, to find a belief in herself. And it's fascinating to see how the various ideas about Mary and earlier goddess images help her to do that.
If you've been reading this blog, you know that I've been collecting stories of people who come into their own after midlife. I'm less interested in people in their 20's who find their way--the world is set up for them, although I do remember that time and wouldn't want to go through it again. No, I want to be assured that it's not too late for me.
I remember falling in love with The Secret Life of Bees and researching Kidd to see what else she had written. I was puzzled by her spiritual writings and by her unconventional path to fiction publication. Now I am heartened.
I must confess, I turned to this book because I really wanted to be reading her latest novel. I picked up Traveling with Pomegranates as a bargain book when I made an Amazon order. I thought it sounded interesting, but the price was what persuaded me.
I'm grateful to have traveled with these two women. I'm grateful for a sense of spirituality that infuses this book. I'm grateful for its positive messages and its truthful look at the fact that the hard won truths may take time to root in us. It's not a relentlessly sunny book: we see these writers wrestle with their fears of aging and death and their feelings of inadequacy. They don't solve these problems in a page or two.
It's a compelling book for anyone who needs a push to make a change.
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