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Soul Salve

May 1, 2010

The amazing ways in which life, circumstance, and coincidence come together is something I find incredibly fascinating. It is even more so when I find myself in the middle of that divine happenstance.

Such was the case earlier this week when I was found by a book.

A book title had captured my attention when segments were referenced in some blog posts on Ronna Detrick’s website, Renegade Conversations. The book she referenced is by Sue Monk Kidd called Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman’s Journey from Christian Tradition to Sacred Feminine.

Further investigation led me to think this was a book I needed.

Desperately.

Like an open wound needs Neosporin to speed the healing.

And while a trip to yoga class in a neighboring larger town resulted in my experiencing a most horrific and tragic loss, it also resulted in a find that has proven to be unexpected salve for a wound that’s been difficult to heal.

I knew that the local Barnes and Noble had the book I was seeking. At least the website indicated they did. One copy. Only one. Which meant it might or might not be there.

I went.

I asked.

I was shown where it “should” be located although it wasn’t jumping out to grab the attention of either the customer service rep or me.

I continued to search the Comparative Religion section to which he had directed me.

In a moment he came back , book in hand. He had found it on a clearance table at the front of the store. It had a sticker on it that said Buy 2 Get the 3rd Free.

Hmm…. I might need to find this table and see what else is there.

And I did.

As I glanced around the table near the open space where my sought-for book had been resting, I noticed another. Cute. Written around a poem with which I was familiar and which struck a synchronistic chord with me.

What else?

Then I saw it. The title that reached up from that table and grabbed my wounds. The words on the beautiful cover were bold and clear.


Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith, by Barbara Brown Taylor.

Never heard of her. Yet apparently she had something to tell me. Something I really needed to hear.

Three books in hand. I stood there holding them for a moment wondering if I really needed them all or if I should leave with only the one for which I came. A chill registered in my body from the roots of the hairs on the top of my head all the way down to the tips of my toes. I have learned in recent months that this is my signal, my intuitive sense, my message from the Divine that something awaits me inside this choice.

All three books left with me.

One, however, begged for my immediate attention, and it wasn’t the one I sought. It is the one that sought me. It was the book that jumped through hoops of time and space and internet blogs and accidental leadings and a sale tag to find its way into my possession and ultimately onto my wounds to help with some much needed healing.

It was the one that contained passages such as this for which I will ever be grateful for Divine Coincidence.

Like most Christians, I have my own canon, in which I hear God speaking most directly to me, but I also like the parts in which God sounds like an alien, since those parts remind me that God does not belong to me. I do  not pretend to read the Bible any more objectively than those who wrote it for me. To read it literally strikes me as a terrible refusal of their literary gifts.

“I will keep the Bible, which remains the Word of God for me, but always the Word as heard by generations of human beings as flawed as I. As beautifully as these witnesses write, their divine inspiration can never be separated from their ardent desires; their genuine wish to serve God cannot be divorced from their self-interest. That God should use such blemished creatures to communicate God’s reality so well makes the Bible its own kind of miracle, but I hope never to put the book ahead of the people whom the book calls me to love and serve.

“I will keep the Bible as a field guide, which was never intended to be a substitute for the field. With the expert notes kept by those who have gone before me, I will keep hunting the Divine Presence in the world, helped as much by the notes they wrote in the margins while they were waiting for God to appear as by their astonished descriptions of what they saw when God did.”

And another….

“In my closet I have a T-shirt with many of their names on it, which I wore to bed while I was sleeping in the wilderness: …Martin Luther, …Joan of Arc, Francis of Assisi, Heldegard of Bingen, Galileo, Copernicus, Peter Aberlard, …Tertullian, Ogigen, Jesus. All of these people made unauthorized choices in their love of God. They saw things they were not supposed to see or said things they were not supposed to say. They wondered about things they were not supposed to wonder about, and when Mother Church told them to stop they did not obey her.

“Some of them died for their disobedience while others were locked in their rooms. Still others were sent out of the house and told to never come back. Many of them are spiritual heroes now. At least one of them is revered as the Son of God, but none of them got where they were going without passing through the wilderness first. “

I never cease to be amazed at how Spirit places something on my heart, something that is completely out of alignment with a sacred belief I have held for most of my life, and then shows me others to whom this same revelation has been given. She shows me these things with such precision that I can’t help but think her messenger must have been hanging out in my head, taking notes and writing down my thoughts and feelings.

This was not my first experience at being found by or led to a resource that I was not seeking. As the saying goes, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

Eerie, almost creepy, but so very cool.

Confirmation that

I am safe.

I am saved.

I am sane.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 1, 2010 11:15 AM

    Two deeply profound books, Angie. Two deeply profound women. Two deeply profound stories. All of which have influenced me deeply…profoundly.

    You’re definitely “in it.” And its a beautiful thing to be in it with others. I’m SO there!

    (Thanks for linking to me. I appreciate you.)

  2. May 1, 2010 11:27 AM

    Thank you for leading me to these books, for writing your own piece of this journey, for being a prophet and speaking truth, for setting an example in so many ways, and for allowing me to come along for the ride.

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