Item description for Water in the Wastelands: The Sacrament of Shared Suffering by William Blaine-Wallace...
With compassion born of painful experience, William Blaine-Wallace invites us to simply sit with human suffering, to companion those who are ravaged by its force, and to wait for the unspeakable, inexplicable peace of God who has been present (and suffering too) throughout. A mother, whose daughter died at the age of twelve, said that for the longest time she felt enveloped in a thick fog of numbness, despair, anger, and sadness. Yet, through the mark of years in the company of family and friends, the fog lifted. What remain are memories, which can be touched now and then over the span of a day: I gently tap my chest, just over the heart, and remember. This book is a similar tapping of the chest. After spending many years among the dying and bereaved as a counselor and companion, clarity slowly emerges that enables veiled articulation of a grace at the center of the community of bent and broken people; what Flannery O'Connor called the image at the heart of things. "
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WILLIAM BLAINE-WALLACE has been rector of Emmanuel Church in Boston, Massachusetts for the last decade. Before his return to parish ministry, he spent thirteen years as a counselor to dying and bereaved persons, and administrator of programs that cared for them. He was executive director of the health care organization that developed and opened the nation's first acute inpatient center for persons with AIDS. He is a lecturer and writer in the field of death and dying, and consults with private and public agencies that set policy for the care of the terminally ill.
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Teach me to care and not to care. Apr 17, 2003
In his poem Ash Wednesday, T. S. Elliot wrote, "Teach me to care and not to care." As one of the pioneers of the hospice movement and as a parish pastor, Bill Blaine-Wallace has discovered the power of this divine attention and indifference. As Bill says, "I became indifferent to some of the religious norms of the dominant culture and paid attention to various rituals of a marginalized society." This is but one of the themes in a collection of essays that explore Christian spirituality with unusual insight and understanding.
I sat down to read one essay at a time but quickly devoured all 21 in one sitting. I basked in the warm glow that emanates from these heartfelt stories. I will read them over and over to draw sustenance from such insights into depression and healing like; "The movement from depression to sadness is the movement out of darkness into light on the trail of a modest relation. A little light can slay the darkness. A lot of light violates eyes that have become dilated in the dark."
Blaine-Wallace could only write such prose after years of trying to walk in the footsteps of "brother Jesus" as he cared for wounded souls on our journey through life. In example after example, Bill reveals his "brother Jesus" in stark comparison to the Jesus in the sweet bye and bye who jealously guards eternal life for a wrathful God.
This book is one that will become dog-eared and worn with use. It is a book I will pick up when I need a boost or nourishment or when I need to come down from my high horse.