Posted on July 4, 2020

Pat Neuwelt reviewer

Birth of a Dancing Star: my journey from cradle Catholic to Cyborg Christian, Ilia Delio, Orbis Books, 2019

Those of us who have read any of Ilia Delio’s books or essays will have discovered that this gifted intellectual, theologian, and author is not always easy to read and understand! In my mind, I see her sitting in a lineage that includes the Franciscan mystic Bonaventure and, more recently, the Jesuit mystic Teilhard de Chardin.  

This book is different. It is a wonderful way to access her ideas through the story of her life. The title itself might draw you in, as it did me! In this book we get to know Ilia ‘from the inside’ – and we can see ourselves in her story. She is so honest as she tells of her steps (often blundering!) to ‘find herself’: her resistance then response to a burning call from the Divine. From a scientist destined for marriage, to an enclosed Catholic nun, to a social and earth justice advocate and beyond … the story of her ‘awakening to her true self’ is very moving.

These words sum it up for me, as she describes the realisation that her life is not something she needs to escape to find God; instead, that God is in the chaos of her busy life:

Rather, stillness in God means leaning in and resting on God, as if emptying out one’s closets of everything one owns and giving it all away and then standing with nothing to lean on but the flow of life itself. This life is God. God is the present bubbling with life, overflowing into the future.” (p.124)

And in the final pages: ‘Travel inward by way of unknowing, and you will know the world in its truth; turn from what is unloving toward that which is love, and you will know yourself loved.’ (p.211)

Get Birth of a Dancing Star from your local library (as I did), or request that they order a copy!