Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Voice that Calls you Home

Book:  The Voice that Calls you Home
Author:  Andrea Raynor

As a hospice chaplain, cancer survivor & a chaplain at Ground Zero following September 11, Andrea Raynor has gained a keen perspective on the meaning of life & death, comfort & grief.  Through her own experiences, Raynor reminds readers that even in the most dire of circumstances, we still have the opportunity to recognize beauty, to be inspired by the tenancity of the human spirit, & to feel connected to something greater. 

Raynor acknowledges that we may not be able to prevent the difficulties that come in life, but we can always choose the way in which we face them.  She urges us not to "live with our heads down, our eyes closed, & our hands in our pockets".  Instead, she prompts us to remain open to the blessings that are all around us & to face life's challenges head on - "to increase our courage, renew our hope, & unite us in teh knowledge that we are not alone"
The wonderful publisher of this book send me a copy to look at.  I am always interested in life stories - especially a story of a chaplain.  I was looking into becoming a chaplain in hospitals or hospice envirnoments years ago, so this piqued my interest from the beginning.

This book has some amazing stories of people in hospice.  Stories of mothers loosing their children, wives loosing their husbands - stories of people who are ready to leave this world while doing it with the knowledge of knowing life doesnt end at the last breath of this world.

There are many chapters of Andrea's life during the weeks at Ground Zero.  I cant imagine the things she actually experiences hands on.  The stories are hard enough to read....

And the story of her diagnosis & battle with breast cancer herself is an inspiration.

I think that this book would be really appreciated by someone that has just lost a loved one, is dealing with grief, wondering about the last stages of death, just needs comfort & insight from someone who has seen death touch so many.

The one con of this book for me - for a chaplain, Andrea does seem to have many "New age" beliefs... & while that may not bother some people, some of her views may be edgy for others.  That is not saying the book is not good.  The point I keep getting throughout her book is still an amazing point - we need to be PRESENT... we need to be there for those who need someone. 

here are two parts of the book that really hit me:
As he (ElieWisel) was forced to watch a young boy hang from the gallows of a concentration camp, dying a slow, torturous death, a prisoner in the crowd cried out: "Where is God now?" Wiesel writes, "And I heard a voice within me answer him:  "where is He? Here He is - He is hanging here from the gallows"

Why do terrible things happen?  Perhaps they happen not because God refuses to act in human history but because we refuse to act humanely.  We are children running with expensive watches, with scissors, with the power to break & to hurt, to squander & to maim.  We have the freedom to make terrible choices or to aspire toward holiness.  And if we continue to point to the absence of God in the presence of evil, we will never take responsbility for our own actions, nor will we discover the God-ever-present, whose heart continues to break with ours.
(This part of the book really touched me - a story of a pastor's wife who never had children due to infertility.  She was so amazing with children, Andrea assumed she has children, grandchildren... here's what she said about it)
"Well", she began, "It was hard in the beginning, certainly.  But when I look back at all the children I have mothered, all the little ones who needed love, I realize that I could never have been there for them in the same way if I had had my own children.  You see," she continued her face aglow, "I am really the mother of more children than I ever could have imagined.  God has truly blessed me"
How do I rate this book?  I think this book will touch those who are in need of these words at the right moment.  It definitely hit home for me in those words above... I'm sure certain stories & words would hit someone else going through a loss of some sort...

My rating:  3 skeins


Tracey said...

Visiting from SITS :) Great Blog!!! I am always looking for new books to read!

Twincerely,Olga said...

stopping in from SITS! I am so glad I found you! Looks like an incredible book!Stop by