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Fear, Courage and Promise: The Impact of Our Spiritual Heritage

making sense of life & death Apr 10, 2018

A while back I bought a book that I’m afraid to start reading. Even though the book was described by author and women’s wellness advocate Dr. Christiane Northrup as “A masterpiece of women’s wisdom,” I hadn’t been moved enough to crack it open. The book is The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman’s Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine, by Sue Monk Kidd, first published in 1996. The discussion inside our recent Reality of Our Mortality Learning Circle helped me understand what’s underneath my fears and motivated me to act.

Our circle focused on exploring the role of our spiritual, cultural and community traditions around supporting us (or not) with our inevitable death and dying. We pondered what we identify as our spiritual heritages and named how we feel supported by them, how they let us down and what we yearn for. It was a fascinating peek into the joy, uncertainty and disappointment many of us feel around our traditions and customs.

Traditions hold the promise for human connection and expressing our essence.

I’m afraid that reading Kidd’s book will make crystal clear to me the void and disconnect I feel in relation to my traditions. I’m afraid I’ll feel compelled to take action, which will add to my to-do list. Mostly, I fear the disruptions that are sure to come if I follow my yearnings. I know in my bones however, that the cost of inaction is much greater. For more than two decades I lived my life without an active and fulfilling spiritual practice and community. During my time away from the Divine, I felt a deep but unexpressed loss that muted my joy.

And I discovered, with the help of my circle companions, that it is precisely our traditions that hold the promise of weaving us into a connected human story, expressing our essence, guiding us along the path, and cradling who we are.

From the introduction of The Dance of the Dissident Daughter:

“I was listening to National Public Radio the other day when someone asked the question: “Once you wake up, can you wake up any more?” Yes, I thought. In a way my whole life has been about waking up and then waking up some more.”

Gulp. Waking up some more takes courage. May we all seek and find what we need to feel supported as we journey.

What about you?

What book or chapter have you not cracked open?

How has the reality of your mortality helped you to wake up before your time’s up?