Living the Complexity of Human Emotions

So apparently I am in a season of feeling all the feelings and I’m going to go with it…for now.

Earlier this month I decided to re-listen to The Girl Who Drank the Moon and in these weeks following my retreat this tale became the perfect reminder to keep my heart open, fleshy and vulnerable because as Kelly Barnhill states so beautifully:

How many feelings can one heart hold?… Infinite, Luna thought. The way the universe is infinite. It is light and dark and endless motion; it is space and time, and space within space, and time within time. And she knew: there is no limit to what the heart can carry.”

Love, hope, grief and sorrow.  The inevitable products of a life lived, yet we struggle to explain the complexity of these seemingly competing emotions.  In this my second reading of Kelly Barnhill’s stunning tale The Girl Who Drank the Moon, I was again blown away by the wisdom and truth this book wrestled with regarding incredibly difficult and often utterly ignored or glossed over topics in YA literature; death, grief, sorrow, inevitable “failures” and the unseen consequences of our choices for ourselves and those we love.

I often find myself saying to my friends, parishioners, acquaintances on the street, in response to their current emotional upheaval, “humanity is capable and complex enough to feel two seemingly contradictory emotions simultaneously.”  This story shows that truth over and over again. Barnhill’s characters are flawed.  All of them make mistakes, wrestle with their choices, and live into the messy consequences of their decisions.  For a fantasy book it is one of the most authentic representations of the actual messiness of a human’s relationship to themselves, others, creation and I would argue the divine.

This reading was a chance for me to keep processing my own sorrow, my own grief…and the sorrow I often bear for others. Fiction is often an escape and that is an amazing gift, but this time through Barnhill’s The Girl Who Drank the Moon offered me something more meaningful than an escape. It offered me the opportunity to dwell in my sorrow without being overcome by it.  To remind me that hope, love, friendship and the bog will always call be back from the edges of my own insecurities, fears and pain and right at those crossroads will I find life.

Happy reading!

Goodreads Review of The Girl Who Drank the Moon