My Grandfather’s Blessings

<October 3/12> I am crazy about (Dr.) Rachel Naomi Remen. 

She & I have never met, but I love this woman all the same. She is a gift to our world well beyond my ability to articulate.

I “met” RNR through her book Kitchen Table Wisdom – Stories That Heal, a book I was (still am!) crazy about. I bought about 10 copies of it one year & gave them to a bunch of friends & acquaintances. (I like to follow crazy impulses like this when they come to me; can’t recall having ever regretted any of them!  )

There’s a whopping testimonial from Deepak Chopra at the top of the front cover of Kitchen Table Wisdom: “I highly recommend this book to everyone.”

Kind of says it all, hmmm?

Kitchen Table Wisdom is about healing. Healing, hurting, dying, even & compassion & conversation & the deep ways in which we humans share all the things that really matter.

The book is a great gift.

This year, I’m buying a crateload (well, only 10 copies, ‘though I’d love to buy a crateload!) of Remen’s My Grandfather’s Blessings – Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging, to give as Christmas presents.

Joan Borysenko, Ph.D. (author of A Woman’s Book of Life & A Woman’s Journey to God) says of it: “My Grandfather’s Blessings is an enduring legacy of the heart. The stories are like pearls strung on a thread of light, and as you read them you will slowly recognize them as your own. Never has a book touched me this deeply. It will be a lifelong source of wisdom and blessing as I read it time and again, sharing the stories with my children and grandchildren. This is the best book I have ever read. You will want to give it to everyone you know.”[1]

She is sooooo right!

& I am an impossible book addict who is always always always telling people about this great book & that awesome book, & wanting to buy books by the box-load to give away

But I think Ms. Borysenko is right.

My Grandfather’s Blessings moves me beyond anything words can say, with its extraordinary compassion, generosity & understanding.

The book consists of a ton of short essays – each one standing perfectly on its own – each an utter gem that may very well move you to tears, as many of them have for me.

Joyful, grateful tears of insight & gratitude to be a human being enjoying (& sharing) the great incomparable gift & grace of life.

Rachel Naomi Remen makes you want to share your joy, & your own gifts with the world – the way she so very, very generously does with her own.

I am soooo grateful to this amazing woman. Doctor, counsellor, long-time chronic disease sufferer[2], guide, teller of spiritual wisdom in every single one of her stories – wisdom & insights each of one of us needs to hear, & know, & share.

Thank you, Rachel Naomi Remen.

Thank you

Thank you

Thank you


p.s. not a book to be gobbled up impatiently, the way I so often consume books. Each story a gem or jewel in its own right – to be savoured slowly & thoughtfully. And kept forever on one’s bedside table.

p.p.s. sure enough, I’ve bought 10 copies, & it’s not enough! I wish I’d ordered more…

Quote of the day with this post: “Life is the ultimate teacher, but it is usually through experience and not scientific research that we discover its deepest lessons. A certain percentage of those who have survived near-death experiences speak of a common insight which afforded a glimpse of life’s basic lesson plan. We are all here for a single purpose: to grow in wisdom and to learn to love better. We can do this through losing as well as through winning, by having and by not having, by succeeding or failing. All we need to do is to show up openhearted for class. So fulfilling life’s purpose may depend more on how we play than what we are dealt.” ~ Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D., in Kitchen Table Wisdom – Stories that Heal

Runners-up for Q. of the day:

“There is a vitality, a life-force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open… [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.” – Martha Graham to Agnes de Mille, from Dance to the Piper - quoted in Blessed Unrest – How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being & Why No One Saw it Coming, by Paul Hawken <Page 9 & in the Notes>

“Life engenders life. Energy creates energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.” ~ Sarah Bernhardt, actress (1844-1923)

“It is one of the beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely help another without helping himself.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.” – Helen Keller

“There was another source for this sense of worth and purpose. In each person’s inmost being there was implanted by Kitchi-Manitou a seed or small clutch of talent. This was the substance that each person was to seek through dream and vision, and having taken possession of it, enhance his being, his world and his sphere with it in emulation of Kitchi-Manitou.” Basil H. Johnston in the foreword to Dancing with a Ghost – Exploring Indian Reality

“The truth is, who we are is more important than what we do.  And who we are is: someone designed to be a blessing to this planet Earth.” – Richard Nelson Bolles, What Color is Your Parachute?

“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something I can do.” – Edward Everett Hale

“A patient once told me that he had tried to ignore his own suffering and the suffering of other people because he had wanted to be happy. Yet becoming numb to suffering will not make us happy. The part in us that feels suffering is the same part as the part that feels joy.” – Rachel Naomi Remen in Kitchen Table Wisdom – Stories that Heal (in the incomparable essay ‘In Flight’)


[1] There are many-many other over-the-top testimonials – on both Kitchen Table Wisdom & My Grandfather’s Blessings. RNR does not lack for devoted fans in high places!!

[2] Which she hardly ever mentions, btw...