My Grandfather’s Blessings

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In My Grandfather’s Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging, Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen shares 102 short stories about the healing power of those who have learned to be open to life’s blessings. Her grandfather, an orthodox rabbi and scholar of the Kaballah, taught her to recognize the healing power of blessing life through small gifts of kindness, thoughtfulness, and generosity in our daily lives. Remen has applied her grandfather’s wisdom to her medical practice in counseling patients with chronic and terminal illnesses.

Remen has collected the stories in My Grandfather’s Blessings from her childhood memories, her medical school teaching, and the experiences of her patients. Her stories are divided into six chapters—receiving your blessing; becoming a blessing; finding strength, taking refuge; the web of blessings; befriending life; and restoring the world. Each story has an insight or message about the healing power of reaching out to others. They demonstrate that medicine is an art that includes spiritual as well as physical healing, and a wise physician will treat the whole person.

How do we find the strength to recognize and affirm the blessings in our lives? What gives us joy? What sustains us? We need to learn how to see familiar things in new ways and with new eyes—to see with the heart as well as the head. Remen’s stories show that blessings happen every day, often in ways we don’t notice, when we serve others.