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My Grandfather's Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging by Rachel Naomi Remen

2000; 382 pp. $24.95. Riverhead Books.

When Peter Warshall proposed that I review My Grandfather's Blessings, he said: "There is something to say for friends reviewing books. The longer-term understanding of the author's intent, for instance; and the deeper understanding of their 'project' in life. Also, Whole Earth is about community, and I've always felt that something overflows from one review to another that speaks of intimacy. So, if you would like, I would like." That made sense.

Rachel's Kitchen Table Wisdom [Riverhead Books, 1997] was a word-of-mouth best-seller that has touched people in a way few books ever do. My Grandfather's Blessings takes us another great step forward in the unfolding of Rachel's service to the world. The titular reference is to what she learned from her grandfather, a rabbi and scholar of the Kabbalah. The 103 stories explore receiving blessings, becoming a blessing, finding strength and taking refuge, the web of blessings, befriending life, and restoring the world. Michael J. Lerner

Service is the work of the soul. We might view moments of genuine service as a movement toward the soul, a return to what is most genuine and real in each of us. In the trajectory of a lifetime, this turning toward our goodness happens not once but many times. Some of these turnings are small and some are large. All are important. Much in life distracts us from our true nature, captures the Self in bonds of greed, desire, numbness, and unconsciousness. But every act of service is an evidence that the soul is stronger than all that, and can draw us toward it despite all.

Perhaps our greatest service is simply to find ways to strengthen and live closer to our goodness. This is far from easy. It requires an everyday attention, an awareness of all that diminishes us, distracts us, and causes us to forget who we are. But every act of service bears witness to the possibility of freedom for us all. And every time anyone becomes more transparent to the light in them, they will restore the light in the world.


ISBN: 1573228567

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