Sunday, September 4, 2011

Books that Change my Life: "The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd

I fully support the concept that God did not stop speaking the minute the New Testament was finished. God still speaks to us in numerous ways and we ignore those messages at our own disservice.

God spoke to me in The Secret Life of Bees. Sue Monk Kidd’s writing spiritually stirs my mind and my heart. Many years before the publication of this novel, I read When the Heart Waits, Kidd’s non-fiction, personal story of coming out of the pit of spiritual death and re-awakening to a new authentic self. My readers know I have been studying the work of Brene’ Brown about living authentically. Kidd was on to this route decades earlier and described her awakening as the task to “dismantle old masks and patterns and unfold a deeper, more authentic self.” 

This process of “becoming real” continues with The Secret Life of Bees. One myth-buster that shouts loud and clear from the pages of this, her first, novel is that God is an old white male. The African-American women of the novel gather around a Black Madonna who nourishes their life and circumstances. Lily, the young girl at the center of the story runs away from an abusive father and rampant racism. She is less aware that she is running toward a mother-figure(s) to replace the mother she lost and an unconditional love that engenders her ability to forgive and give love.

There’s one metaphor that plays a significant role in the book that I have used in spiritual workshops. One of the three African-American sisters has emotional difficulties that seem to suggest she is a Christ-figure. She takes on all the burdens of the world, to such an extent, she can’t function unless she writes the burden down and puts the piece of paper in a crack in a wall—essentially her wailing wall. How much better off would we all be if we could adopt this metaphor and detach from life’s problems after turning them over to whatever source of love you are able to claim.

Authenticity of Kidd’s own spiritual journey shouts from the pages of this transformative book. Experiencing the journey along with her cannot be accomplished by attending this movie. Run to the library or bookstore to give yourself this treat.



  1. I agree with you about this book, although the movie version of it is the one that sticks with me. So much so that I can't remember if I ever read the book. Isn't that terrible?

    Have you read Sue Monk Kidd's memoir The Dance of the Dissident Daughter? Your post reminds me that I should read that book as I write my Mennonite childhood memoir.

  2. Interesting, Shirley, my spouse and I were just having a conversation last night about the difference in movie and book renditions. I rarely prefer the movie over the book.

    I read The Dance of the Dissident Daughter so long ago, I barely remember it. Perhaps I need to take another look!