The Wailing Wall (including The Secret Life of Bees)

After the horrible news of terrorism in Paris and Beirut, I thought it fitting to put a link to an article I wrote on the Wailing Wall. Lord, have mercy.

The wall we used as our wailing wall in Spain.

The wall we used as our wailing wall in Spain.

Do you feel the need to weep and mourn at times? That you need a safe place to let out your heartbreak, angst, and disappointment? The Western Wall – known commonly as the Wailing Wall – in Jerusalem has served as such a space over the centuries. It’s a surviving remnant of God’s Temple and was the spot closest to the Holy of Holies – that place where God’s presence dwelled. Jewish pilgrims who journey there pour out their hearts and prayers to the Lord.

I thought about the Wailing Wall recently as I led a book club retreat in sunny Spain. With palm trees, cacti, and citrus trees in the background, we met around the pool, chatting through the books I had selected for the week and engaging with related spiritual exercises. The setting was idyllic, fostering deep conversation about the books we’d read, one of them being The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd.

Perhaps you’ve read it or seen the film adaptation. Set in the American South during the sixties, it features the protagonist, Lily, a white girl on the cusp of growing up. With her nanny Rosaleen, she escapes her abusive father in the quest to find out more about her mother, who died when she was four years old. They end up in a house the color of Pepto-Bismol where a group of black sisters keep bees and observe religious practices based on a black Madonna.

Parenthetically, I should mention that I’m not recommending the theology as expressed in the novel – it’s not Trinitarian and deifies a folk legend based on Mary. But as Christians we can and should engage with what we read critically, weighing up what we agree with and what we don’t – a bit like my book club did as we discussed the novel by the pool.

Read the rest at The Kingdom Life Now magazine.

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