Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Here If You Need Me, 2007

A much as I love fiction, I have a weakness for a clear, compelling nonfiction piece. This book was a good fit that. Kate Braestrup is a Unitarian Universalist minister who works for the Maine forestry service. She is basically a Chaplin to game wardens. She chronicles her process of choosing this career and walks the reader through what her experience is like on a day to day basis. She has two primary roles, first to minister to families and loved ones when someone goes missing or dies in the Maine woods and second to minister to the game wardens as they go about their days.

How she goes into this profession is a large part of her story, her husband dies tragically and she sort of takes on the mantle of what he had planned to do. While this experience shaped her personally and professionally, I was actually more captivated by her stories of being with the wardens themselves. Her job is basically to be present physically and emotionally in all types of situations. She serves them by just being there. Which I suppose is where she got the title for the book. I think her process spoke to me because it seemed so similar to what I do as a therapist. In many moments it seems like just bearing witness to people's pain and joy is a sacred act. Yes, there is a science to psychology that I'm not dismissing that. The science is real and useful in a number of ways. And yet there is still the unexplained power of a simple human connection and feels much more spiritual in nature. This author seems to capture the essence of that relationship in her work. Reading the book feels like you are a silent passenger throughout her many interactions and encounters with people. You listen, observe and occasionally pray, all the while trusting God to handle the rest.

She has a quote in the preface that sums up the book for me. She is discussing the meaning of the Greek word, Logos, which can mean: word, discourse, speech, message, theory, motive, reason, wisdom, and story. She then places it in the context of John's gospel "In the beginning was the story, and the story was with God, and story was God."

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