Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Book Review: Hope Will Find You

My mother suggested this book by Rabbi Naomi Levy, Hope Will Find You: My Search for the Wisdom to Stop Waiting and Start Living.  Neither my library nor the library in a neighboring town had it.  So, I searched at my mother-in-law's library, knowing she was coming for a visit.  I'm so glad she was able to get the book and bring it to me.  It was a wonderful experience, reading this story and gleaning the lessons.

Rabbi Levy faces a questionable future for her young daughter.  They are not sure if what she has is degenerative or fatal.  Only time will tell, but it is clear that she has difficulties with balance and with learning.  In the face of this news, Levy admits that she came to a stand-still.  She couldn't move forward.  She was filled with angst and worry, waiting for life to begin when they knew the answers to the questions they faced about their daughter's future.

While telling the story of her experience with her daughter's perplexing difficulties, she weaves in stories from Scripture and Yiddish proverbs.  Each chapter contains a nugget of wisdom.  I thoroughly enjoyed the stories and the wisdom conveyed.

She highlights the story from the Bible about the widow who is faced with losing her sons, when Elisha tells her to gather pots from her neighbors and pour the oil she already has into them. Levy draws this lesson from the story: the blessings are already within you.  Look to what you already have.

 She contemplates God's question to Adam and Eve in the garden: "Where are you?"  From this story she hears God's side: "Where are you? Why are you hiding? Why aren't you living up to your potential?  Why can't you see how blessed you are, how loved you are?"

Perhaps my favorite was her story of breaking twelve pieces of her mother's beloved china set and her brother's loving attempt to restore the pieces with glue.  She writes:

"The broken shards are everywhere around us, even within our own souls.  And those shards aren't just garbage to be thrown out, they contain holy sparks, entrapped divine light.  Our task on earth is to repair the world by finding those fragments and restoring them to wholeness....  We can only repair creation by caring, by seeking to live up to our highest potential, by uncovering the secret holiness that's hidden in our ordinary lives.... If there's something broken in your life, don't just throw the shards out with the trash, bring the box back inside and face the jagged pieces.  Examine them carefully and answers will start to surface. Will there be a seamless, perfect healing? Probably not.  There will always be cracks.  But our challenge in life is to learn how to live with our scars, because our scars are holy. It's from them that we learn our strength, our compassion.  It's from them that we learn how to pray, how to dream how to listen, how to reach out and offer help."

In the end, she concludes that you don't have to necessarily go looking for hope because hope will find you, if you let it.  Amid stories of a phenomenal eye doctor who loses his vision, and various parishioners who come to her with problems, Levy manages to convey so many little bits of truth and vision for life.

I loved the book.  Levy is an excellent storyteller.  Moreover, she learns so many things from various aspects of her life.  I wish I could see so much wisdom in my own ordinary life.  This book has encouraged me to look more closely at even the temporary struggles life presents.  Everything can provide a lesson.  God wants to work through every situation we face.

You can view a brief trailer for the book, in the words of the author herself, here.

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