"Late have I loved Thee, O Beauty ever ancient and ever new; late have I loved Thee! For behold Thou were within me, and I outside; and I sought Thee outside and in my unloveliness fell upon those lovely things that Thou hast made."
- Saint Augustine of Hippo, Confessions 10:27
As a modern echo of the great Saint Augustine of Hippo, Kim Zember's wonderful memoir detailing her life-long struggle with faith and sexuality sings the glory of that "ever ancient, ever new" Beauty.
The story reads less like a memoir and more like a conversation over wine or coffee. Zember's informal style immediately puts readers at ease and draws them into one of those conversations we are lucky enough to stumble into.
The book is less a story and more a meeting with an old friend you'll feel like you have known for years who is just catching you up on what's been happening in her life lately.
She dives right into her story with the details of her first same-sex kiss (with required allusion to the popular Katy Perry song) and draws the reader in from there.
Far being a simplistic and shallow dive into the series of relationships which would eventually define much of her life, Zember instead explores the complexities of all her relationships with women (and sometimes men) and God. She does not spare the reader her own pain nor the pain she caused others through her actions.
Her account is refreshingly honest, humble and real.
To say that Zember has had an eventful life would be an understatement. yet, in all her adventures she is always seeking meaning and purpose, whether she was aware of it at the time or not.
Whether it is hiking mountains with friends, cruising the oceans on luxury liners or working missions in Africa, Zember grabs the you and brings you into the whirlwind of adventures along with her.
Yet, despite all the excitements, as she describes so many times throughout the book, and as Augustine described more than a millenia ago, she never found peace.
Until He showed up.
Once she fell in love with her heart's True Desire, her life changed or more accurately, He changed her life. Her conversion was not instant, nor without backsliding, confusion and even more pain as she struggled with her sexuality but it does provide the anchor which grounds her and draws her ever closer to Him in an inexorable embrace.
As a man who has experienced same-sex attractions and struggled to find God in them and through them, reading about a similar struggle from a woman's point of view was eye-opening, to say the least and gave me whole different perspective on the issue which confirms what the Scriptures and Holy Mother Church have always taught and which so many in the world today want to redefine and revise.
Men and women are inherently different, yet complementary. There's just no way around that, no matter how hard we try to assert the opposite.
So, in closing, this is a book anyone can read, no matter where you are in life, no matter what spirituality you follow or what kind of sexual attractions you experience or don't experience.
It is the story of one woman's journey to meet and fall in love with the Man of her dreams.
The title of the book so aptly alludes again to another famous saying of Saint Augustine in his Confessions (1:1): "Our hearts our restless until they rest in Thee."
Kim Zember's heart is no longer restless.
The book is available through the publisher, Sophia Institute Press, or most other booksellers.
Check out Kim's website.