When I heard from my friend Rebecca that Sue Monk Kidd had a new book, The Book of Longings, I ordered it right away. The first morning I sat down to begin reading, I encountered two quotes on the page before the first chapter. I was so taken by these quotes that I had to pause and consider them. They were new to me and yet familiar. They shone like the next stepping stones of my journey.
First, this from The Thunder: Perfect Mind (an ancient Coptic poem)
“I am the first and the last
I am she who is honoured and she who is mocked
I am the whore and the holy woman
I am the wife and the virgin
I am the mother and the daughter
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.“
Then, this from the Gospel of Thomas:
“Knock upon yourself as on a door,
and walk upon yourself as on a straight road.
For if you walk on the road, you cannot get lost,
and what you open for yourself will open.”
I was reminded of the powerful dream I wrote about a few weeks ago (June 26,2020 post)
This dream was about discovering that I was giving birth to myself (I am the mother and daughter), and re-inventing my own life (Knock upon yourself as on a door).
Now I really wanted to read on! The story follows the life of Ana, who was destined to become the wife of a young Hebrew man named Jesus. (Intriguing…)
As a girl she is considered to be a misfit and a disturbance. “I’d long been able to read and write, and I possessed unusual abilities to compose words into stories, to decipher languages and texts, to grasp hidden meanings, to hold opposing ideas in my head without conflict.” Ana wrote the stories of the women that were not represented in the traditional scriptures.
This reminded me of an idea I heard recently – “Write your own Bible”. What!? Is that allowed?
Once I accepted the idea that the Bible is not the actual words of God (there was no magic tape recorder at the Sermon on the Mount), I could appreciate the writings as they are- the words of the people of God, with all of their human limits and weaknesses, in a time very different from our own. A time in which women’s stories were even more under-represented that now. Some sacred texts, such as the ones above, were not chosen to be included in the Christian Canon. Who made those decisions? The men of the Church of Rome.
Hmmm. Maybe it is time to write my own personal bible – just for me. By that I mean I can create my own collection of sacred texts that speak to me, as a woman, sister, daughter, wife and mother; as a woman who reads and writes and makes art and music; a woman who seeks wisdom, beauty and inspiration; and who questions and challenges the status quo. I can look beyond the traditional scriptures, beyond the Christian Canon, and collect the ideas and wisdom of women and men who inspire me, no matter what their faith tradition.