Reading as a Spiritual Practice: Ink and Honey

If you have not read the book, Ink and Honey by Sibyl Dana Reynolds, order your copy now. You will be blessed.

Ink and Honey is set in France in the thirteenth century. The inquisitorial squads were very real and very dangerous. The church was a man’s world and a world dominated by the culture of the Crusades.  While women existed as anchorites or nuns, the REAL work of church life was done by men. Women who attempted to exist beyond these rules were immediately suspect. Ink and Honey records the fictional story of one such group.

The women of Belle Coeur form a sisterhood that wants to exist on the fringes. These women are drawn together from very different places–some are married but alone as their husbands fight in the Crusades, some are widows, some are single and before Belle Coeur they are vagrants. Some are young and avoiding their destiny in arranged marriages without love or hope. All are drawn together from their desire to live a life of service to God but free of the church’s oppression. They are mystics and healers in a time when such gifts were immediate cause for burning at the stake. They are artistic and creative with their writing and storytelling when women weren’t to even know such arts. They are compassionate and welcoming when they were supposed to be harsh rule followers.

There is sacred life in this story for me. I live in a religious tradition that does not hear women’s stories. I live in a religious tradition that  distrusts mystics and creativity and compassion. And in this story, I find my story. I hear my own song. I feel a kindred-spirit-ness. My own journey to be with God has not followed the path of convention. Maybe yours hasn’t either.

This beautiful book has reminded me that “margin people” have always been around and sometimes they have an advantage of hearing more clearly the song that God is singing to create a new world because they don’t have a box to keep God contained.

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