“I am she…
Do not be afraid of my power…
I am the knowledge of my name
I am the name of the sound and the sound of the name”
The Thunder: perfect mind
Like Maya Angelou said, “a solitary fantasy can transform a million realities”. This is what The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd did for me and for many other women. And I write this article, hoping that it might give you inspiration to transform yours too.
The Book of Longings is a historical fiction about the story of Ana, whom Sue Monk Kidd imagined from a novelist perspective as the wife of Jesus. There is no record of Jesus from the age of 12 until the age of 30 and if, IF… Jesus actually did have a wife during that period, and history unfolded exactly the way it has, then as Sue Monk Kidd described it, “she would be the most silenced woman in history and the woman most in need of a voice”.
Just imagine that possibility… be the most silenced and forgotten woman in history. It took my breath away just to consider that possibility.
Sue Monk Kidd’s imagination gave her a voice.
Ana’s character is not only the wife of Jesus but a woman in her own quest, “following her longings in pursuit of the largeness inside herself.” She is a woman ahead of her time, fighting to have a voice, to write and to make her own choices. Ana’s character instigates and inspires every women’s quests, longings, and the authentic expression of our own largeness.
As I read the book, a mix of fascination, fear and admiration for the author got hold of me. I was shook to my core – “How dare she? What a courageous woman to let her creativity reimagine one of the most known and sacred pieces of history. Isn’t she afraid of criticism? I kept wondering. What an audacious and creative big idea to write about! It was one of those moments when I experienced what Dr Sarah Lewis describes as aesthetic force – this internal shift of our critical awareness and perception of the word that happens due to the power of the arts.
Interestingly enough, Brené Brown in her book The gifts of Imperfection, describes that in her research on authenticity and shame, she found out that speaking out is a major trigger for women. “Sometimes, when we push the system, it pushes back. (…) Don’t upset anyone or hurt anyone’s feelings but say what is on your mind. (…) Don’t say anything unpopular or controversial but have the courage to disagree with the crowd” is part of the struggle to be authentic.” And authenticity and self expression isn’t always a safe option.
What an inspiration to witness women with such an audacious voice push the system. A voice that by daring to creatively reimagine the past can help us rethink the future. A quest that makes us speculate about what would be different today in our cultural inheritance if indeed Jesus had a wife. Would women have found more egalitarianism? Would our relationship to our bodies and spirituality be different?
And as I write about it, I feel compassion as I think of women whose longings where shut down and left unexpressed, specially women from past generations. I feel the courage of all women in our present moment that are embracing their own quests and daring to find their voices. And finally I feel hope for women of future generations that will fully express their largeness and help us create a better future.
“I am she…
Do not be afraid of my power…”
The Thunder: perfect mind – poem discovered among the Gnostic manuscripts in the Nag Hammadi that starts The book of Longings.