Sue Monk Kidd 3 again

Sue Monk Kidd 3 again

“Today (August 12) is my birthday. It makes me think of the new life I’m incubating and the Birth-day still to come. Sometimes it seems that life is a grace too severe, too vast, and too beautiful to receive. But I open my hands anyway. Today I’ll talk to myself. I’ll say, ‘Accept life-the places it bleeds and the places it smiles. That’s your most holy and human task. Gather up the pain and the questions and hold them like a child up your lap. Have faith in God, in the movement of your soul. Accept what is. Accept the dark. It’s okay. Just be true.’”

Sue Monk Kidd, When the Heart Waits, p. 171, incubating the darkness.

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Today we continue to share stories from author, Sue Monk Kidd.

I found two copies of Sue Monk Kidd’s book, When the Heart Waits, Spiritual Direction for Life’s Sacred Questions unread, in my home library. When I saw the book on the list for my spiritual direction studies at the Haden Institute, I took it as a sign to read it.   I still remember the first time I met Sue Monk Kidd. She was on a tour for her book, The Dance of the Dissident Daughter.  I took all of my female partners in my medical group and my daughter to hear her. One of my partners cried the entire time and bought several books.

 Kidd is as amazing as a speaker as she is as a writer.  Kidd reminds us of Marian Woodman’s writings about creative suffering in the dark. Creative suffering burns clean as opposed to neurotic suffering that creates more soot. Creative suffering “easters” us or transforms us, chooses a new way, owns our shadow, heals our wounds, as opposed to neurotic or self-pitying suffering which is un-transforming and leads to despair. Kidd continues to tell us that pain may not kill us, but running from it might.

She describes a healing exercise at a retreat she led at Kanuga where they all put on the altar cut up scrapes of colored papers representing wounds and pain from their lives, offering them up, turning them over instead pushing them down, trying to escape from them.

She reminds us that the most significant events in Jesus’ life occurred in darkness: birth, arrest, death, resurrection. As tiny bits of light come out in our lives, we begin eastering just like the lighting of the Pascal candle at the Easter Vigil. This is a great image for me, for the deaconusually carries the Pascal candle saying “the light of Christ” three times and then sings the Exsultet, praising the light.  The Pascal candle at our church is real wax and for some reason is always very difficult to extinguish! 

Kidd describes how our addictions keep us unaware of what is going on inside of us as well as outside of us. This reminds me of when I am living in my addiction, I keep my mind and my body from feeling the harm to my body and soul and heart that comes from wearing my many false selves that we talked about yesterday. Twenty-seven years ago, when I was introduced to a 12-step program, I got my voice back, but the recovery in the darkness of dealing with the tensions of all the false selves is still part of my recovery as I try to live the steps. More and more I can see easterings or resurrection, but it is still hard work. When the true self emerges, there is delight in life. Gratitude is what the true self of life brings.  God becomes our playmate and we find our inner child.

Kidd writes about our accelerated, instant, quick “fast-food” society. I remember once talking to a 10-year-old about playing chess, and her response was, “it takes too long.”

Kidd reminds us of our desire for shortcut religion as well, looking for what Bonhoeffer called cheap grace, “long on butterflies but short on cocoons.”

I go down to our den this afternoon and find my husband and our 11-year-old grandson quietly playing chess. I feel hope.