Sunday, July 21, 2013

69. "Enlightened-ish" by Gail Dickert

Dickert, Gail. Enlightened-ish: A Grief Memoir About Spiritual Awakening. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2013.

153 pages.

Reviewed by J. d'Artagnan Love

This is Gail Dickert's second book. She is an author, poet, blogger and activist. She is especially active in LGBT communities and advocates for former "ex-gays" and youth. Enlightened-ish is a memoir of her experience of awakening following the death of her father. Emphasizing that everyone's experience of spiritual awakening is uniquely his/her own, Dickert walks readers through a series of "Freedoms" that she learned on her own path. Woven in with descriptions of these "Freedoms," Dickert illustrates the grieving process she went through after the death of her father as well as her means of healing after witnessing a man's suicide.

There were several "Freedoms" that rang very true for me. The first point was in the chapter titled "The Freedom to Cuss." In this chapter Dickert dissects the idea that your body and soul must be separate and that your body, or the human condition, is an obstacle to spiritual awakening. It's true that we, especially in the west, separate our body and "soul" (however you may define that) as often competing entities. Our body has base, carnal needs that get in the way of spiritual purity. This leads us to believe we are imperfect and immoral from the start simply because we have bodies. Dickert is able to break this idea down and show why body and soul should not be considered competitors but teammates in the game of life.

The next chapter that stood out for me was one titled "The Freedom to Say 'Enough!'". Dickert breaks this Freedom down into several principles including being able to relinquish the need to do it all, the need to be seen and heard, the need to be right, the need to know, the need to rescue or be rescued, and the need to suffer (Dickert, 71). Relinquishing the need to rescue and be rescued was a principle that stood out for me as I lean towards being a rescuer in my personal life.

Finally the last chapter that reverberated for me was one title "The Freedom to Save Yourself." This chapter explores what it means to love yourself, forgive yourself, and be your own best friend. It touches on providing for your own emotional needs rather than expecting another person outside yourself to provide those needs for you.

These are just the chapters that touched my heart, but if you read the book yourself, you may find that several other chapters, entirely different from the few I've chosen here, speak to you personally. Because of the way individuality is emphasized in the text, you are free to take from this book whatever fits your own personal path. Nothing is prescribed; it is merely suggested as a possibility to open unexplored places in our heart and psyche. At the end of each chapter, Dickert provides some workbook pages in which discussion questions are provided to help readers connect the reading to their own experience. In this way, Dickert's story helps readers to open themselves to their own stories of grief and awakening.

4 darts out of 5
Bookshelf Project Status: KEEP

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