Has an elusive voice sandpapered your dreams with incongruent pieces from the past? Has consolation or anger-induced rapid breathing flooded your waking moments?

Who or what is this inner voice? From whence does it come? How cultivate it, how heed its directives, especially since it seems to know us so intimately? There is one who has researched these questions for us.

The Swiss psychiatrist C. G. Jung explored this voice, teeming from his unconscious between 1914 and 1930, and he illustrated his findings in The Red Book (2009). Emerging within these pages are his central discoveries: the archetypes, the collective unconscious, and the process of individuation. Prior to this seminal study, no psychologist had ever mapped the terrain of the unconscious, and because of which, psychotherapy has become a means for the higher development of the personality, not just treatment of sickness.

Synchronistically, harrying dreams led me to the door of a Jungian analyst in 1988. Under her tutelage, I embraced the rigors of individuation: a risky engagement with my unconscious’ voice expressed in dreams, hunches, significant conversations, or art works. Slowly, the pull of my false self lessoned, giving way to discoveries of values and behaviors more in sync with my emerging self. At times, though, such stripping was awkward, even painful. But more disorders awaited me with the next dream.

As I reflect upon this thirty-year period I’m quietly amazed. I’ve learned to name this voice, Higher Power or God of my understanding. What had begun as a desperate venture has evolved in the actualization of my birthright—this I bring to eternal life, but not before still more work on my shadow before my last breath.

 

“A man’s holy of holies contains God’s law, but inside a woman’s there are only longings…Write what’s inside here, inside your holy of holies.” So said the wise Yaltha as she tapped her niece’s heart, the fourteen-year-old Ana, literate in Aramaic, Greek, and Hebrew. It is her story that Sue Monk Kidd develops in the novel The Book of Longings (2020), set in first-century Palestine and Egypt.

But such a story it is, the fruit of nineteen years of rumination and composition: Ana as wife and spiritual companion to Jesus of Nazareth; it shimmers with authenticity. Kidd’s meticulous research fleshed out this relationship in broad strokes, allowing readers ample room to internalize this possibility, given that no extant scriptural texts, canonical or non-canonical, speak of Jesus, married or single.

Of course, Jesus would be taken by Ana during their chance meeting at the Sepphoris market. She was already living the selfless love he would articulate later to his followers as the Kingdom of God.

A life-long devotee of Sophia, Ana’s spirit remained ever mindful of her largeness as woman, as scribe of feminine mysteries. From these depths streamed words she inked upon papyrus and bound in codices. Never did she flinch from hardship or abuse intended to silence her tongue or reed pen. With purpose, her sanded feet flew along dusty roads toward experiences that deepened her engagement with life.

Kidd’s novel is also to be relished for its precise language of the seasons’ varied moods. Fresh figures of speech activate the senses and afford believability and immediacy to this captivating world of persons emerging from the pages of the Gospels.

The joy of companioning Ana in The Book of Longings left unparalleled sweetness—a book to savor.

 

 

So stay awake, because you do not know either the day or the hour—so Jesus of Nazareth concludes the parable of the Ten Bridesmaids in Mathew’s Gospel.

This imperative, if practiced, prickles waking hours with discomfort, stripped of defense mechanisms, distractions, and procrastination. It corrals wayward thoughts and motives and reveals them for what they are: sludge-pots obscuring the Sacred’s yearning for communion with his beloved creatures.

Such discipline, or Kingdom living, costs, as Jesus well knew. To engage his listeners’ imaginations—hungry for peace—he taught with parables often used by other rabbis, but bearing his imprint that quickened heart-conversions. A revolutionary manner of living inevitably followed.

Indeed, is not conversion of heart life’s deepest lesson? As I continue filling each twenty-four hours with prayer, study, writing, and phone contacts, I keep company with the five wise bridesmaids in the parable; they knew to carry extra flasks of palm oil for their lamps lest theirs went out while waiting to escort the bridegroom and his bride to the feast. With them, I keep my spirit well oiled while waiting for his call to enter the joys of the banquet prepared for all eternity.

That, indeed, will be a moment…

Available on Amazon

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