Traveling with Pomegranates

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Between 1998 and 2000, Sue [Monk Kidd] and her daughter Ann travel throughout Greece and France. Sue, coming to grips with aging, caught in a creative vacuum, longing to reconnect with her grown daughter, struggles to enlarge a vision of swarming bees into a novel. Ann, just graduated from college, heartbroken and benumbed by the classic question about what to do with her life, grapples with a painful depression. As this modern-day Demeter and Persephone chronicle the richly symbolic and personal meaning of an array of inspiring figures and sites, they also each give voice to that most protean of connections: the bond of mother and daughter.

The title of this intimate novel, Traveling with Pomegranates, has always stayed with me. It is the interior landscape of a mother, facing big questions of meaning, life and death as she moves towards the second half of her life. Meanwhile, how does an adult daughter relate to her aging mother, the one who has always been there for her, when caught in the throes of her own life (and age-related) struggles? This book reminded me that we are all on this very human journey together, and as Ram Dass said,” we are all walking each other home”.

Pomegranates, that most juicy of fruits, whose succulent ruby kernels offer sweet nourishment and are an anti-oxidant for the body, dates its origins back to biblical times. In many religious traditions of the Middle East—from Judaism to Islam, in Greek and Persian mythologies—pomegranates were a symbol of abundance, fertility, holiness, love, matrimony, rebirth, eternal life.

This pretty much covers the whole gamut of life—from birth to death.

Photo by Engin Akyurt on

In this bruising year, 2020, as the playing fields have been leveled in so many ways, the lids ripped off our darkest delusions, the scary shadows of our common humanity exposed, we have also seen the best rise up. Whether you are young, middling or older, we have all grappled with life and death, darkness and light, good and evil, sickness and health, in pretty intense ways. Some on the front lines, some as bystanders, casualties of being in wrong place at the wrong time. Some in their own living rooms, praying for an end to the death and destruction, healing of the divisions.

The heat of the purifying fires, the griefs and tragedies have left almost no one untouched. We have grappled with our inner and outer oxymorons, complexities, and incongruencies. And for those who are awake and spiritually alive, you have found a deeper well within yourself. An artesian spring of sacrifice and kindness, compassion, calm, joy and peace— come what may. We are all being baptized.

Those who receive the baptism, You are the ones to help guide this broken down beautiful planet and this ship of suffering humans through it’s birthing pangs. Each ordinary being has a task to do.

What I want to do is hand each of you a pomegranate! I want to ask you to break it open and sink your teeth into those ruby red kernels. Feel those skins pop satisfyingly and taste the sweet elixir of its musky bittersweetness. Feel the fruit’s juice cascade down your chin. Enjoy the messiness. Taste it’s goodness.

We are in the midst of rebirth, even as the angel of death ravages homes. What we do have becomes more precious in the midst of scarcity. It feels like abundance. Love is the discipline of staying home, so that next year all will be there around the holiday table.

Travel with Pomegranates.

6 thoughts on “Traveling with Pomegranates

  1. Seems the cabin in the woods agrees with you, dear friend. Beautifully written and your words have given voice to the essence of this past year. Thank you.

    It’s been a rough one


    1. Yes, I love having solitary and creative space. But Kenneth just left after 4 days and it is always lonesome…thank you for your Christmas card. Thinking of you and Lewis with much love. Happy New Year!


  2. Hi dear Anita All I can say my friend is wow…and that your writings move me deeply. Thank you. I so grateful for you my friend, mi alma cara, my soul sister ????

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