cover image Wild Woman: A Footnote, the Desert, and My Quest for an Elusive Saint

Wild Woman: A Footnote, the Desert, and My Quest for an Elusive Saint

Amy Frykholm. Broadleaf, $27.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-5064-7185-3

In this sharp meditation, journalist Frykholm (Rapture Culture) recalls her pilgrimage in which she sought to connect with the spirit of Mary of Egypt. Traveling through Egypt, Israel, Palestine, and Jordan, she found that the desert saint’s legacy is elusive, and her own travels were replete with “dead ends [and] closed chapels.” Nevertheless, Frykholm views her quest with a mystic’s eye, finding meaning in dreams, small breakthroughs, and even emptiness, as with the “life-giving mystery” of life in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a “monument to emptiness” that forces one to consider the nature of absence. Frykholm’s lyrical reflections on Mary of Egypt as an “icon of desire” are stirring (“At the edge of yourself, you stumble onto her. She is already ahead of you in the wilderness—the Wild Woman, that deep woman of myth, who goes away from outer authority to find an inner authority, who goes out into the wilderness to seek bewilderment”), though her attempts to tease out Mary’s story never reach a definitive conclusion, and readers will likely find this works better as a spiritual reflection than as a travelogue. Despite this, patient readers will find many intelligent takes on the value of pursuing the sacred in one’s life. (Aug.)