TRAVELING WITH POMEGRANATES
The Search for the Divine Mother
The Mother-Daughter relationship can be one of the most beautiful and poignant representations of unconditional love and caring. We want our mothers to be compassionate, gentle, supportive, strong, tireless, confident, and always available. We want their smile to denote unwavering tenderness, forgiveness, and understanding. The mother-daughter relationship is one of deep mystery and has a huge impact on our emotional health, strength, and confidence as women.
Not always a picture of perfection, our relationships with our mothers can cause us suffering and hurt. The one that knows us best somehow falls short and we can become wounded. Or we can be so close as daughters that we can’t let go, and we become stifled.
In Traveling With Pomegranates-A Mother-Daughter Story, well-known author of Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd co-writes with her daughter, Ann. They travel through Greece, Turkey, and France visiting pilgrimage sites of women saints and seeking out Black Madonnas.
Sue soon realizes that they are living out deep archetypes of loss and searching, each in the particular stage of life that they are experiencing. Sue has developed some health problems and is turning 50. Ann who just graduated from college is recognizing that she is in depression about her next career move. What strikes me most about the writing of these two women is the openness and vulnerability that they express through their writing. They approach each other’s pain with respect and patience, not trying to control or change the moment. They ask for answers not from each other, but from their experiences and intentions while in the presence of the Black Madonnas. Sue asks for clarity on her future as a novelist and receives signs that point to writing a novel revolving around bees and a young girl searching for her mother. Ann finds the courage to go on. And all through the book, there are pomegranates, pomegranates representing fertility and creativity and new life.
Although our earthly mothers may disappoint us, our Divine Mother never will. For centuries, the several hundred Black Madonnas in Europe have become spiritual polestars for women searching for guidance. In the Myrtle Tree in the convent garden where the Black Madonna of Palianis lives, there are offerings of rosaries, ribbons, and candles signifying gratitude and blessings. Sue sits by the feet of the Black Madonna who legend says would not stay in the church adjacent to the garden. No matter how many times she was moved indoors, on the very next morning, she would be in the tree. Sue remembers her favorite line in Secret Life of Bees, when Lily is pressing her hand to the heart of the Black Madonna and saying,
“I live in the hive of darkness and you are my mother.
You are the mother of thousands.”
The Mother is here with us, seeking to console, to guide, to lift us up. We just need the stillness to hear her speak to us, to understand the omens that may be all around us. She is Divine, the Divine Mother within.
Namaste, Darlene and Jamey