A Square-Peg People Book Review
The Dance of the Dissident Daughter
by Sue Monk Kidd
In The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, Sue Monk Kidd takes us through some of the ups and downs of her spiritual journey to find the Sacred Feminine.
The path she takes us on haunts and hurts before it speaks of healing.
She talks about experiences that all women will connect with - the silencing and discounting (wounding) of women - from small to big, that comes out of being born female - in earlier times and in the present.
Though the book is centered around women and their spiritual journeying, it ultimately is not "just" a woman's thing - the message reverberates like a pebble thrown into a lake - circling out further and further... the bigger reverberations - the bigger story - being the healing of humanity - bringing us into wholeness.
This book touches the core - the place where we are more alike than different. And our core - all of us, whether we are aware or not, cries out to be seen and heard - to matter.
The Dance of the Dissident Daughter is filled with powerful information that Sue Monk Kidd found as she hunts back through her own spiritual traditions for the Divine Feminine. She finds much suppression - lost meanings of words, words that have been squelched out of spiritual writings, ancient rituals that we no longer know.
She brings in facts and theories from varied sources and she also bring in stories - many stories, many quotes - another acknowledgement of community. Honoring the fact that we build with each other and on each other's knowledge.
This book is deep, personal and wise.
In a section called "A Spirituality of Naturalness" the author says:
"Patriarchal spirituality becomes a flight from earth, flesh, temporality, and the present. But Sacred Feminine consciousness seizes us by the shoulders, looks in our eyes, and tells us with passsion and simplicity: If you don't get anything else, get this. This is your life, right now, on this changing earth, in this impermanent body, among these excruciatingly ordinary things. This is it. You will not find it anywhere else.
A natural (and feminine) spirituality tends to incorporate three very organic, basic, but overlooked things into our sacred experience: the earthly, the now, and the ordinary."
She also speaks of a kind of thinking in pictures - she describes using art often - to go deeper in her journey.
Kidd says, in bold print: "Why didn't I see this before? That my creative life is my deepest prayer. That I must pray from my heart, from my soul. Not from my head or my need for securtiy or approval or to gain some sort of repute..."
She also emphasises ritual. The rituals she talks about are personal and touching. They seem organic - growing out of her experience.
Since I've moved away from patriarchal religion I have lost ritual. Amusingly, the local Friends' Meeting, which I have recently begun to attend, also seems to eschew ritual.
So I am beginning to invent my own - which I think might be the idea behind the Friends' not having a "set" ritual - the idea that these things need to come from our own core - they cannot be given to us.
Sue Monk Kidd emphasises connection: "Connectedness is intrinsic in female life, and certainly when we envision the Divine as female we release a new and unique emphasis on relationship."
I see this connectedness as a spiral - for me this has involved alot of unlearning. The spiral I now see starts with me, then goes round to Spirit, then others.
It's not, like I was taught as a little girl - all about Others, it's not - as I was taught in churches, church schools and church sponsored institutes of higher learning - all about Spirit, with a bit for Others and no Self, and it's not - as a reactionary part of me would consider - all about Self - and to hell with Others or Spirit.
The spiral is a trilogy of experience for me: Self, Spirit, Others - wound round and round so that there really is no start and no finish. But all three are included.
The Dance of the Dissident Daughter offers strength through Sue Monk Kidd's stories about women's spiritual journeying, including her own. And the admonition that "...feminine journeys do yield empowered female lives,...new authority comes out of our experiences."
I've given copies of this book to one of my daughters and a friend, loaned it to a number of clients - and they have all been touched deeply by it.
One woman I lent the book to came to return it to me - she handed me an unopened Amazon.com box. I looked confused (that's actually a common look for me) and she apologetically explained: "I'm so sorry. I got so into the book that I wrote notes on almost every page. And I turned down lots of corners. I couldn't give you the book back like that. I had to get you a new copy."
The Dance of the Dissident Daughter is that kind of book!
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