Saturday, September 12, 2009

Suggested Reading

I don’t often comment here on what I’ve been reading. Well, that’s not exactly true. The fact is that I don’t read for recreation as often as I might, and then for escape and not edification. I spend an awful lot of time reading on line; and so perhaps I do comment here on what I’ve been reading.

That said, I did read a book this summer that I can recommend. I found myself reading Perfectly Imperfect by Lee Woodruff, and I enjoyed it. I received the book when she was the featured speaker at a fund raiser for my hospital.

Now, I’m no better than anyone else at reading books I receive in such circumstances. However, I had an opportunity before I gave the invocation (yes, I do find myself singing – er, praying – for my supper, as it were) for a good conversation with her. It was clear that she had had good experiences with chaplains when her husband Bob was in the hospital. You may remember that Bob, a correspondent for ABC News, was injured in Iraq, and recovered after a long hospitalization. Speaking with Lee I had some sense of what she felt she had learned in that experience about caring for families in such difficult circumstances. She particularly suggested I would be interested in the last chapter, “What I Know Now.”

So, I did read the book, and I did enjoy it. It is certainly honest and self-revealing. While I think most of her readers will be women, it is a book I can recommend to men – just be prepared for a woman’s observations about us, and about things in the lives of women that we don’t usually hear about. Lee was as engaging in print as she was in person, and in a way I felt honored, feeling that sense of intimacy when a personal story is shared.

But she was right about the last chapter, and I can especially recommend it, for readers in general but especially for chaplains and other clergy. Indeed, if I were still in that business, I think I would recommend it for CPE students. She confirms some principles of providing support that I have seen over the years - like, there are no magic words; and think before speaking of God in “all of this.” She has clearly thought through what was helpful to her, and what she has seen as helpful to others. In chaplaincy we say often that our patients are our best teachers. This last chapter, “What I Know Now,” is just that sort of opportunity.

So, take the time to read Perfectly Imperfect; and not just the last chapter. We are honored when individuals share with us the stories of their lives. That sense of being honored can blend with a distinct sense of pleasure in reading Lee Woodruff’s book.

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