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My Grandfather's Blessings
Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging
by Rachel Naomi Remen
Riverhead Trade  ISBN-10: 1573228567

Recommended book: My Grandfather's BlessingsWhen she was four years old, doctor and writer Rachel Remen's grandfather gave her a paper cup filled with dirt, which he instructed her to water daily. Day after day, she lovingly added water to the cup of dirt, then just as she was about to give up, a plant sprouted. Through this exercise and others, her grandfather taught her that the "spark of God" exists everywhere.

 Through a series of stories in her book, My Grandfather's Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging, she encourages her readers to recognize and celebrate the unexpected blessings in their lives. Though her experiences as a medical student and a physician working with cancer patients contribute to her recollections, the most memorable ones relate to her intense relationship with her grandfather, who died when she was seven. Her simple yet powerful stories help her readers to recognize the good things in life.

Remen uses the heart-rending stories of some of her patients to teach her readers how to combine a life of service with a life of giving and receiving blessings, a combination that avoids common problems such as burnout and self-sacrifice. One tells of a widow who learned to cherish her husband's memory with love instead of with pain. Another tells of a little boy who recognized that it's easier to love just a few toys than many. She also includes personal stories of her grandfather, who showered her world with his mystical beliefs.

"Wisdom," says Remen, "lies in engaging the life you have been given as fully and courageously as possible and not letting go until you find the unknown blessing that is in everything."

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