Dancing on the Soul’s Growing Edge

Dancing on the Soul’s Growing Edge

Non-Fiction - Health - Fitness
204 Pages
Reviewed on 08/07/2009
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Anne Boling for Readers' Favorite

Kate McLennan, D. Min. shares her story in The Messy Buddha.  She begins by telling readers about a canary sent into a mine to see if it was safe for humans.  She compares herself to the canary as she describes her fight against leukemia.  I was struck by her attitude.  She tells us of times of quiet and other times of being a “basket case.”  Yet I sensed calm and the ability to laugh and enjoy life.  When she lost her hair she called the rocks her people.  They resembled her baldhead.

I love the way she envisioned the chemotherapy as a cleansing.  Recently a friend of mine was going through chemo.  Instead of working with it she seemed to fight it.  (She survived and is cancer free, Praise God.)  By seeing the chemo as a dance and as a cleansing Kate had hope.

“The key is awakening and presence in each moment” was one of the statements in The Messy Buddha that stood out to me.  “The journey of life is a gift.  Trust in your life—your reality, your joy, your pain, your sorrow, and your bliss—it’s all part of the package that we find in the present.”

The Messy Buddha is a touching read.  The author writes from her heart.  I was blessed by the message in The Messy Buddha.

Tracy Carnes

The Messy Buddha was a book I could not put it down - it inspired me to do one small creative thing. And lo and behold the inner voice that has been nagging me for years - took a break. Reading about your journey in this book gave me inspiration - the same inspiration I had when I read Marianne Williamson's A Woman's Worth. It also gave me a map. Thank you.


There are very few books I re-read. I think the last one was Gone with the Wind. This is a book I have already re-read, and I know I will go back to it often.

Kate's passion for life, when letting go might have seemed easier at times, simply jumps off the pages. The range and depth of Kate's spiritual knowledge is astounding, and the ease with which she discusses the many concepts makes this information very accessible to the eager, but spiritually naïve, seeker.

Kate states "I'm not sure how I turned about face to trust what I knew about life - that adversity is sometimes the compost for growing the soul" (pg 52). These are very important words for any who've come face to face with significant adversity. To be able to trust - when all physical evidence points to the contrary, when the world seems hostile, when people vanish during times of need - trust is not for sissies. Trusting - a simple, self-effacing word - and one of the very hardest lessons to incorporate. Trusting in the love and compassion in the Creator - Kate shows us both the simple truth and the hard work of achieving this state of grace.

Kate discusses the movie Bruce Almighty, one I've seen several times. She shares one of her thoughts in response to the storyline: "What a great reminder of how frequently we pray for something, and how infrequently we listen for guidance" (pg 144).

Kate's listened for guidance, received it, and now shares it.

Read this book. Risk dancing on the precipice.

K. Walker

In this first book, Rev. McClennan combines poetic inspiration with personal stories, quotes from great spiritual leaders on timeworn life lessons, and practical guidelines for being in contemplative spirit concurrently with trudging through the often mundane and "messy" experience of everyday life.

I carried the volume with me throughout a very stressful two weeks, reading and rereading it as I sat in various waiting rooms....waiting to hear about the health of my car, a victim of "dirty gas," waiting to hear about the health of my blood, the victim of both anemia and a clotting disorder, and waiting to hear about the health of my finances as I face bankruptcy. The more I waited and read, the more I felt a shift from victimhood to survivorship.

Rev. McClennan has a delicious, self-deprecating sense of humor regarding her own ragged journey through severe, life-threatening illness. In addition, she discloses judiciously about family problems, religious and social alienation, and healing in the face of death and rejection.

This book has, among other things, allowed me a gentle passage back to my essential self.