For The Someday Book

Book Review: Kitchen Table Wisdom

Posted on: May 13, 2012

Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories that Heal by Rachel Naomi Remen, Riverhead Books, New York, 1996, 337 pp.

This book was recommended to me by my friend (and faithful reader!) Lynn, who thought my own writing reminded her of the storytelling in this book, one of her personal favorites. What a high compliment to have received! I had never heard of Remen or her work before Lynn mentioned her to me, and I treasured this book from cover to cover.

Remen is an extraordinary person herself–a medical doctor turned therapist turned holistic healer and medical school professor, who has also lived with a chronic illness of her own for fifty years. The book is a collection of stories, written in a style that is simple and beautiful. They are stories about healing. Sometimes, a patient finds spiritual and emotional healing even as their body continues to waste away. Sometimes, a patient finds healing for the body in the healing of the soul. In other stories, there is too much pain, and the patient is not willing to enter into healing.

It took me several weeks to read this book, because I wanted to savor every story. It’s the kind of book I want to come to know, to read again and again so that I can absorb its stories and make them my own. During the weeks I have been reading this book, I have been dealing with many difficult situations at church, and found myself feeling broken, battered and exhausted. Remen’s stories had healing power for me too, as I took time to read just a few short episodes every night as a way of remembering wholeness in the midst of chaos.

What a beautiful book. Thank you, Lynn, for recommending it. I encourage anyone who wants to learn more about healing, in need of healing, or who practices the healing and caring arts to take the time to read it, slowly.

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About Me

I am a full-time pastor in the United Church of Christ, mother of a young child (B.), married to an aspiring academic and curmudgeon (J.). I live by faith, intuition and intellect. I follow politics, football and the Boston Red Sox. I like to talk about progressive issues, theological concerns, church life, the impact of technology and media, pop culture and books.

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