The Book of Longings
by Sue Monk Kidd
Our one true God dwelled inside the Holy of Holies in the Temple at Jerusalem, and I was sure it was impious to speak of a similar place existing inside humans, and worse still to suggest that yearnings inside girls like me had intimations of divinity. It was the most beautiful, wicked blasphemy I’d ever heard. I could not sleep that night for the ecstasy of it.
This is a newly released book from the same author as Secret Life of Bees, which I read in 2020 also, and LOVED.
Disclaimer: I write this review not quite halfway through my first time reading this book. And I say my first time, because I can already tell I would love to come back and read it again.
In this book, the author has imagined (clearly with great intention and MUCH research,)
the bride of Christ in the flesh.
This book is undoubtedly to be regarded by fundamentalists as utter blasphemy, and it lent me hope my faith has needed to live on through the many layers of deconstructing and critical thinking about the church that I’ve been trying to do since I was a child.
Books are sacred to me – as is every single time I encounter the holiness of something another being worked hard to pour their life into, that they put their signature on, and risked letting live in the world.
I will sometimes read a passage in a book and finding myself spilling over with emotion, I will close it, keeping my finger pressed between the pages to hold my place, and hug it to my chest, as a dear friend I’m inexpressibly glad I have met. I do this hoping to hold the words and the feeling of hope, or harmony, empathy, or sorrow deep within my heart for much more than the moment I just read them and they danced through my mind.
On a rare and treasured occasion, I will hug a book and tears will overtake me. Sometimes laughter, too. I thank the writer for writing it. I give thanks that the universe gave way for this artist to sculpt words that will set people free.
And this book gave me all of that before I was even halfway through it. I am mourning already that it will end while crying tears of joy that it exists.
It helped me see again the Jesus I first fell in love with and lost sight of through the crowd of Pharisees, money changers, politicians, and other modern day oppressors.
Thank you, Sue Monk Kidd, for returning good to the world.
Edited to add:
I have finished the book.
It’s after 3:00 in the morning and I’ve just sat sobbing silently.
Do read the author’s note, it’s essential.
It feels like a strange betrayal to say that a book is my favorite – when so many books have impacted who I am. But if I could say that about a book, it could be this book.
it comes to me that the echoes of my own life will likely die away in that way thunder does. But this life, what a shining thing—it is enough.– Sue Monk Kidd, The Book of Longings