Monday, September 24, 2007



SHALL WE DANCE?

Four years ago we moved into our house, kicking a couple of dissident daughters out. I say dissident (disagreeing with an established religion) because while these simply-dressed, grey-haired women had been married to Jesus for nearly 50 years each, they were hardly anyone's "Little Mrs." God was always referred to as feminine, and Mother Earth was worshipped and revered, A few hundred years ago this kind of thinking would have gotten these women branded witches, and had them burned at the stake. I'd like to think we share a past life experience in that regard, for I'm sure I spent at least one incarnation being incinerated for my dissident ways. At least I hope so. I pray I wasn't the one lighting the matches.

Sister Mary, the primary dweller of our home before it became our home, highly recommended a book to me, and I put it in the pile.

"The Pile" had some impressive titles waiting for me, and many were "up" before this one. I had just read The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, and Sister Mary was pushing me to read one of her non-fiction books, The Dance of the Dissident Daughter. “I think this book will really resonate with you, Carrie,” she said while giving me a knowing look. I chose to ignore her “knowing.” I wasn’t ready for that kind of “knowing.” Four years ago I wasn't nearly as dissident as I am now, and nothing about the book called to me, but I'm a good girl, and obediently ordered the book and placed it in line to be read.

This summer of 2007 may well go down as my Summer of Dissidence. I read, thought and did all kinds of out-there things, out there for me, anyway. One doesn't have to stretch far or wide to be "out there" for me, straight-laced, good, even puritanical are apt words to describe me. This summer I studied archetypes, goddesses, dakinis (flying dieties of Tibetan Buddhism), mythology, folk tales, astrology, homeopathy, chakras and nature, our Mother. Like I said, "out there."

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree they say, and I am no exception. My mother, sandwiched between six brothers and raised by an over-bearing Baptist minister father, had patriarchy down pat. She "rebelled" as a young woman and became Episcopalian. While being an Episcopalian is a long way away from the fire and brimstone of Baptists, those roots from her childhood had taken firm hold, and popped up like weeds early and often in my upbringing. Barry Manilow was a "rock star" and his poster in my room had to come down - worshipping false gods. My Aquarius poster, too, had to come down, even though she'd given it to me. It was evil, work of the devil, opened my mind to sin and corruption if I wasn't vigilant. Vigilant was my middle name, the poster and all thoughts towards astrology were rinsed clean by the blood of Christ. My life as a child felt like hell, there was no way I was going to spend all eternity there. If all it took to ensure my gateway to heaven was removing thumbtacks from my wall, that worked for me.

For much of my Dissident Summer of ’07 I listened to books on CDs. Gary Zukav, Tsultrim Allione, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, and Eckhart Tolle among others. I kept The Dance of the Dissident Daughter in the pile all summer, but never got to it, still wasn’t calling my name.

Yesterday the book called my name.

“Carrie,” the book shouted from the pile. “Pick me up. I have the words you are looking for. I am the last piece of the puzzle. You are ready for me now.”

I spent all day yesterday before a fire, wrapped in afghans made by my mother, in her house in Sisters. I took a “sick day.” I never showered, never got out of my pajamas, never “did” anything. I was sick, too. Soul sick. Sad. Disillusioned. Feeling displaced. Betwixt and between. Depressed. Teary.

My Dissident Summer was over. I’d disassembled my life this summer, I’d pulled everything apart and analyzed it to death. Many parts indeed died, they were on their last legs anyway. Some parts were struggling to survive and I chose to fan their tiny flame and get them roaring again. I moved from confusion to clarity to confusion over and over again.

Driving over the mountain Friday from Portland to Sisters, I saw how clearly fall is here now, and summer is gone. There is that cold bite to the air that wasn’t here in August. Many of the trees and shrubs lining the highway are turning brilliant colors. As they approach death they spark and enflame, giving life their last hurrah before falling to the ground and turning to compost. Many parts of me alit before dying, wanting one last desperate bit of attention. Now they lie around and feed the new growth. Their lives not having been lived in vain. Their death making possible new life. The cycle continuing.

And so I lay all day yesterday in a stew of old and new, death, dying, re-birth, pregnant with the future. Sue Monk Kidd’s book a key, if not last, piece of the puzzle. She expertly details the process I’ve been going through, and all I can say is, “ditto.”

Thank you Sister Mary. Thank you Sue Monk Kidd. Thank you, Mom. Thank you, my daughter. Thank you Grandma. Thank you Mary our Mother. Thank you Mother Earth. Thank you, dissident daughters, everywhere.

9 comments:

Suzy said...

Thank you. Some of your finest writing here.

Love.
Suzy

Michelle O'Neil said...

Dance of the Dissidant Daughter is a beautiful book.

....and from Secret Life of Bees it seems to me, you've "opened your jar."

Love.

kario said...

My dear, this is gorgeous. Thank you so much for sharing your process with us and being brave enough to continue down this path. I know that the new growth you're nurturing will bloom like a beacon for all to see.

Love you.

Nancy said...

"Many parts of me alit before dying, wanting one last desperate bit of attention. Now they lie around and feed the new growth. Their lives not having been lived in vain. Their death making possible new life. The cycle continuing." beautiful beautiful wisdom.

Ziji Wangmo said...

I love that book. It brings up, as well as answers many questions.

So great that you took the day off and took care of yourself - a good way to step into fall.

Anonymous said...

you or your readers might like to check out:

www.dissidentdaughter.blogspot.com

I have been a big fan of it AND fullycaffeinated for a while now...

keep up the great work of questioning

grammer said...

Beautifully rendered, Carrie, all of it.

Hold out for the autumn blossom.

xo t

Bossy Boots said...

Vigilant was my middle name, the poster and all thoughts towards astrology were rinsed clean by the blood of Christ. My life as a child felt like hell, there was no way I was going to spend all eternity there.

As they approach death they spark and enflame, giving life their last hurrah before falling to the ground and turning to compost. Many parts of me alit before dying, wanting one last desperate bit of attention. Now they lie around and feed the new growth. Their lives not having been lived in vain. Their death making possible new life. The cycle continuing.

Nice writing! Great work, Link!

Deb said...

Gorgeous writing - I could really feel fall, both literally and metaphorically in this piece. Sue Monk Kidd has been my hero for a while now - Dance is a book we all should read. So glad you've found each other. Much love.