On Wednesday night the stars aligned and I had the opportunity to see and hear—and even for a brief moment meet—author Sue Monk Kidd.
Saying that the stars aligned might seem like a dramatic way to describe it, but in a way, it feels so true. The work of Sue Monk Kidd entered my life long ago and lit a flame within me—a star that grows ever-brighter as I journey closer toward the Divine and my true self—so an encounter in the flesh seems like a Divine occurrence, and I treated it as such.
Sue Monk Kidd inspires me.
The roots of word inspire are close to that of inspiration, which describes an “immediate influence of God.” To be inspired is to be in-spirit, and spirit, as we know from the Hebrew word ruach, means breath or wind. To be inspired is to be filled with the Spirit, and this inspiration moves with the force of a mighty and mysterious wind, causing us to catch our breath as it takes hold of our very being.
This Sunday in the Christian calendar is the Feast of Pentecost, marking the gift of the Holy Spirit. “When the day of Pentecost had come,” it says in the book of Acts, “they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like a rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them the ability.”
Throughout the season of Easter, we’ve been focusing on what brings us life. These are the things that sustain us, and to celebrate them is to re-member, to return to wholeness. The places that bring us life are the places in which we meet God. The events of Pentecost, however, invite us to experience God in new ways. These new ways of seeing and experiencing come unexpected with the “rush of a violent wind.” They fill us with new passion that burns “as of fire.” And they provide us with “other languages” with which to share this good and inspired news with others.
Like the inciting event that sends the pilgrim to a foreign land, these moments of inspiration invite us to begin a new journey, deepening our experience and expanding our edges, ushering us toward transformation.
Sue Monk Kidd is one of many voices the Spirit has used to lead me toward transformation, and as I contemplated which books to take to the reading to have her sign, I decided to bring just one. As the line grew shorter and my heart beat faster, I practiced in my mind what I would say. How could I express it all when so little could be put into words? I smiled knowingly as the woman ahead shared how The Secret Life of Bees had reconnected her to the Madonna, and when my turn came, I handed her my copy of The Dance of the Dissident Daughter.
“I could have brought all of your books,” I said, “because I have them all and love them all, especially The Invention of Wings. But I decided to bring this book because I thought it would be the most significant one to have you sign, as a blessing of sorts, because it’s my journey, too.”
“I love that,” she responded as she handed back to me my book.
In that brief moment our eyes met, and I replied, “Thank you.” And though it was only one expression of gratitude, it carried the weight of a thousand. Thank you for signing my book, and thank you for saying you loved what I had to say (I knew you would—I learned about ritual and enacting meaning from you, after all). But more than anything, thank you for continually inspiring me, writing words that create space for the Spirit to rush in and invite me to journey, deepening my experience and expanding my edges, ushering me toward transformation time and time again.
What has inspired you in the past and where did it lead? What is inspiring you today? What journey is the Spirit calling you to make?
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