Kitchen Table Wisdom by Rachel Naomi Remen - Sweet Book by kpeterson520

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									    Kitchen Table Wisdom by Rachel
             Naomi Remen




                            Must Be Present To Win


Sitting around the table telling stories is not just a way of passing time,
writes Rachel Naomi Remen in her introduction to Kitchen Table Wisdom.
It is the way wisdom gets passed along. The stuff that helps us live a life
worth remembering. Remen, a physician, therapist, professor of
medicine, and long-term survivor of chronic illness, is also a down-home
storyteller. Reading this collection of real-life parables feels like a late-
night kitchen session with a best friend, munching on leftovers while
listening to the good-as-gossip stories of everyday heroes and archetype
villains. Every story guides us like a life compass, showing us whats good
and lasting about ourselves as well as humanity.

Personal Review: Kitchen Table Wisdom by Rachel Naomi
Remen
Rachel Naomi Remen believes in the healing power of stories. She trained
as a pediatrician and expected to practice traditional medicine much as her
father and other male members of her family had done before her, but
something happened to change her carefully planned course.

In the introduction to Kitchen Table Wisdom, Remen tells how her male
colleagues frequently knocked on her office door to ask for her help with a
crying patient. They believed that she, as a woman, would know what to
do. Though she knew no more than they, she felt flattered that they came
to her and felt that this helped her be more a part of their exclusive "Old
Boys Network." She began to spend more and more time listening to
patients share their fears and feelings of living with a terminal disease.

Since the age of fifteen, Remen has suffered from Crohn's disease. As she
listened to her patients, she began to feel less lonely and isolated.
Probably, her guidance and uncanny understanding of her patients
stemmed from her familiarity with physical and emotional pain.

Kitchen Table Wisdom is a compilation of eighty-eight poignant stories that
Remen heard over many years, as well as stories of her own life. Her
stories demonstrate her belief that a larger process is at work in all our
lives and that human beings are "unfinished, a work in progress." She
believes we come into the world whole but lose faith in our wholeness and
become discouraged by feelings of not being pretty enough, smart enough,
etc. " ... our wholeness exists in us now," she writes, "Trapped though it
may be, it can be called upon for guidance, direction and most
fundamentally, comfort."

No retelling of Remen's stories can do them justice. One of my favorites is
"The Question"--a story told by a patient named Tim (now a cardiologist) of
his experience at the age of fifteen with his father, who was in the last
stages of Alzheimer¹s disease. At the time, his father had not spoken for
ten years and was totally helpless. Tim and his brother were alone with
their father when he suddenly slumped over and fell to the floor. The
brother was calling 911 when both boys heard a voice commanding, "Don't
call 911, son. Tell your mother that I love her. Tell her that I am all right."
With those words, the man died. An autopsy later revealed that Tim's
father's brain had been entirely destroyed by the disease. Tim never stops
wondering who spoke those final words. He tells Dr. Remen, "Much of life
can never be explained but only witnessed."

The author believes that talking about and sharing one¹s feelings revives
memories that can lead to important new insights about one¹s life, bringing
about a healing that formal treatment is unable to offer. She says that
Shamans believe illness is a direct indication of soul loss. The soul, she
explains, is that which is aware of the sacredness we carry and the
sacredness that exists in the external world as well. Losing our
appreciation for our sacredness, living with sadness, with feelings of
unworthiness can manifest illness.
"Life is the ultimate teacher...," she writes. "It is through experience, and
not scientific knowledge or expert academic training alone that we learn
our deepest lessons." In her lectures and writings, Dr. Remen likes to tell
of a sign on the wall of a room in Florida where the elderly come to play
Bingo. It reads, "You Have to Be Present to Win." And so it is in life.

by Duffie Bart
for Story Circle Book Reviews
reviewing books by, for, and about women

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