Top positive review
Sometimes waiting is the only path to spiritual enlightenment
Reviewed in the United States on June 6, 2017
I love this author and have enjoyed all her books. She is just two years older than I am, so I have identified with the stages of her spiritual journey and have appreciated her honesty about her "dark nights of the soul" and her periods of doubt, anger, and fear.
This book was written when Sue Monk Kidd was in her forties, but its lesson is one most of us have to keep learning. She had always been the "good girl," living up to everyone's expectations but chafing inside a prison of her own—and society's—making. It didn't help that she was married to a Southern Baptist minister and was trying to live up to those expectations as well. She felt frozen, stuck, and desperate—as though she had lost her way and her true self at the same time.
In the discovery of a cocoon, she finds the analogy she needs to begin working through this unhappy period. She pulls in an impressive body of Christian writings and quotations that helped her realize she was not unique in this experience and certainly not alone.
As she begins to identify with the caterpillar inside the cocoon, she stumbles on the importance of being still and waiting—or trusting that God is working in her and for her and trusting that when the time is right (and only then) will her wings unfurl and enable her to fly again.
If the analogy seems at times a bit simplistic and pat, the author did a beautiful job of making her case with deeply felt logic and rich references and reminders that there are things in the life of the soul that just can't be rushed.
"Nothing can be more useful to a man than a determination not to be hurried." (Henry David Thoreau)
She recalls a retreat to a monastery, when she asked a monk how he could sit so still and be so patient with doing nothing. "I hope you'll hear what I'm about to tell you," he replied. "I hope you'll hear it all the way down to your toes. When you're waiting, you're not doing nothing. You're doing the most important something there is. You're allowing the your soul to grow up. If you can't be still and wait, you can't become what God created you to be."
Wow...I found that very profound. In fact, I found many soul-nourishing insights and have added many authors she quoted to my To Read or To Re-Read list: Thomas Merton, Carl Jung, St. Teresa of Avila, Henri Nouwen, Meister Eckhart and others.
Some of the lines I highlighted will give you a better sense of the book's message:
"...lots of times we need questions more than answers."
"She had come upon the 'epiphany' buried in her crisis."
A crisis is a holy summons to cross a threshold."
"Jung once pointed out that religion can easily become a defense against an experience of God."
"We have within us a deep longing to grow and become a new creature, but we possess an equally strong compulsion to remain the same—to burrow down in our safe, secure places."
"If we're to wait, we must relearn the extravagance of grace."
"The point of the spiritual life is that you dance the music God pipes in you."
"The spiritual journey is one of becoming real."
This book was a treasure trove of truth and wisdom. The trick, of course, is learning to apply the lessons in my real life.