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Thoughts about new movie - The Secret Life of Bees
Reflections on The Secret Life of Bees by Ananda Leeke
Copyright 2008 by Madelyn C. Leeke

Excerpt from That Which Awakens Me (Winter 2009)

This weekend I went to Houston to attend my cousin Chester's wedding. I stayed with my sorority sister Pam and her husband Vinson. When Pam picked me up from the airport on Friday night, we talked about how excited we were to see such a strong female cast in The Secret Life of Bees. We also decided to carve out some movie time on Saturday morning to see the movie.

When we arrived at the movie theater the next morning, I was blown away by the cost of the matinee show. Five dollars! Yes only five dollars. You gotta love Houston for the cheap movie ticket! My connection to the movie began with the year I was born. 1964. Although I have no real memory of the year, my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and family friends gave me their memories of what it was like to live in America as African Americans. Their memories centered around the Civil Rights movement and the violence, discrimination, and suffering of people who look like me.

When I saw the scene with Jennifer Hudson's character Rosaleen getting beat up by an angry crowd of White men, all of their memories flashed in front of my eyes. It made me wonder how could folks endure such pain and suffering yet find the courage to move forward and fight for their rights. Faith in Spirit to transform humanity through the power of love, prayer, action, healing, compassion, strategic organizing, service to others, community-building, resource sharing, patience, courage, persistence, and nonviolence were the answers that came to mind.

After the characters Rosaleen and Lily met the Boatwright sisters, I developed a fondness for May Boatwright played by Sophie Okonedo. May's spirit and heart were overflowing with love and compassion. She made me smile with her creative breakfasts and desserts ... dancing... braiding hair... honoring the Black Madonna... crying... singing... praying... sewing... and placing her concerns at her very own wailing wall. She was so authentic in the way she lived and expressed herself. When she decided to take her life, I was shocked. She did it peacefully and in the water. Water is such a powerful force. It reminds me of baptism, purification, healing, and cleansing. Maybe May decided to leave her burdens behind in the water as a form of cleansing her soul before her spirit moved from this life to the next. Who knows?

I thought The Secret Life of Bees movie was a beautiful story. It affirmed how powerful women can be when they gather and honor feminine energy in the sacred and themselves. It reminded me of how members of my Catholic womanline have chosen to honor the feminine in their own lives. I thought about how my mother Theresa, grandmothers Dorothy and Frederica, and great aunt Paulyne honored the Virgin Mary with their prayers, rosaries, silver medals, candles, and statues. When my grandmother Frederica and great aunt Paulyne died, they left me a collection of Virgin Mary memorabilia that currently decorates my home.

Last year my my grandmother Dorothy gave me a plate that contained a painting of the Black Madonna. It has become one of my favorite Virgin Mary treasures. My other favorites include: 1) a collection of photos taken of me praying to a Black Virgin statue dedicated to the Nuestra Señora del Regla (Our Lady of Regla) and Yemaya, the Santeria oricha of the Ocean, in the Church of Our Lady of Regla that I discovered while exploring the African presence and slave trade in Regla, a town that sits on the Bay of Havana in Cuba. 2) a statue of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (Our Lady of Guadalupe) that my sistalove friend Jill purchased while on vacation in Mexico 3) two hand-painted cardboard box altars dedicated to Nuestra Señora del la Caridad del Cobre(Our Lady of Caridad del Cobre), the patron saint of Cuba, and Nuestra Señora del Regla that I purchased while visiting Havana, Cuba My Virgin Mary treasures and Catholic womanline legacy often inspire me to nurture the connection I have to African, Buddhist, and Hindu feminine deities such as the Yoruba goddesses Oshun, Yemanja, and Oya; Haitian goddess Erzulie; Kemetian goddesses Auset, Ma'at, Het Heru, Seshat, Sekhmet, and Bast; Buddhist goddesses Tara and Kuan Yin; and Hindu goddesses Shakti, Lakshimi, Sarasvati, Vach, Kundalini, and Kali. These feminine energies played a major role in redefining my spirituality. They encouraged me to take personal responsibility for my emotions and choices, become active in my healing process, express my creativity, share my healing gifts, explore my multilayered human identities, and utilize self-care practices to create calm and balance in my daily life with the support of yoga, Reiki, meditation, mantra chanting, journaling, devotional reading, and art-making. Because of them, I'm always learning and growing. Their presence is a constant force in my life. After marinating in my own reflections and witnessing the power of The Secret Life of Bees' author Sue Monk Kidd's words come to life on the silver screen, I can honestly say that I'm ready for some quiet time to read her book. It has been sitting on my bookcase in the company of other goddess books for a few years. Tomorrow, I am taking Kidd's book with me on my daily commute so that I can explore the juicy life of each character and her connection to the sacred feminine on paper. I'm sure great discoveries lie ahead.