Lenten Book Discussion: A Goodness I Cannot Explain

February 28, 2024 @ 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm

Lenten book discussionA goodness I cannot explain: a medical spiritual memoir. by Rev. Catherine Stewart.  In my sermon on December 24  I briefly told a story about a medical decision I  made. I have written a book about that journey. A few people in the congregation have read it and have encouraged me to offer a time to discuss it.  We will aim at 4 Wednesday afternoons during Lent, 1:30- 2:30, at the church: February 28, March 6, 13,20. Some copies of the book are available for purchase from the office for $20.  Please call or email the office by February 16 if you are interested in participating.

If there is enough interest in an evening time, I am happy to offer 3  Wednesday evenings  February 28, March 6 and March 20.   7- 8 pm.  Let Deb in the office know.

Also to note: there is one copy of the book in the Knox library, and there are some copies floating around that could be borrowed, I suspect  (from non-Guelph folk).

“”We found something.”” With these words, a Presbyterian minister is thrust into a medical crisis: a tumor is pressing on her brain. Doctors cannot offer a preferred treatment plan: radiation and surgery are equally valid but carry vastly different risks and consequences. She herself must choose. She plunges into a maze of medical research, but the analytical mode of Western culture cannot help her find peace in her decision. Instead, she is unwittingly led along an ancient prayer path called Lectio Divina, and transformed by inexplicable and repeated encounters with goodness. Still a community’s shepherd in faith, she shoulders the question they too ask: “”Can God be found here?”” The maze becomes a labyrinth: a spiritual journey that brings her to a center that holds. Her decision made, she undergoes treatment. “”You must have been terrified,”” a friend says. That is when the author realizes that her experience is unusual: she had not been afraid. How to explain that? This memoir recounts how her ideas of God and self are reshaped as she discovers a place of deep knowing and trust. Humbled and surprised, she experiences in her body the gospel she has preached for years. “”This book is an honest, searching, reflective account of how its author met the crisis of a life-changing condition, and through the resources of her religious tradition and the support of friends old and new, lived that crisis with courage and faith.”” –J. Gerald Janzen, Author of At the Scent of Water: The Ground of Hope in the Book of Job “”This is not just one more book on near-death experiences. Pastor Cathy Stewart skillfully writes this book showing us how to meet God through our very own experience. The pastoral goal is not to tell an interesting story, but to instruct us how to meet and greet our experience as a revelatory text. The most satisfying teaching embodied in this book is on the value and promise of sustained listening.”” –Mary Margaret Funk, Benedictine Sister, Our Lady of Grace Monastery, Beech Grove, Indiana “”All we have are stories.”” Catherine Stewart’s compelling story is one of anguish, vulnerability, honesty, and hope. It is also a story of healing and wholeness. Catherine serves as a guide to help us ask the all-important question of Who am I? In answering the question, she moves from despair to integrity thereby gaining in wisdom and compassion and deepening her understanding of what it means to be in relationship with self, others, and Other (the Divine). An inspiring account of a very personal journey, with relevance for all of us.”” –David Kuhl, Professor, Department of Family Practice, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia; Author of What Dying People Want: Practical Wisdom for the End of Life “”In contemporary bioethics, there is much talk about relational autonomy: how individuals make medical decisions within a social context. But precisely how patients do this is poorly described in the literature. A Goodness I Cannot Explain is illuminating in its close description of the complexity of medical decision-making for patients–including the influences of personal psychology, spirituality, family, and community. This book will help healthcare professionals to glimpse into the unseen struggle of patients facing terrible choices, and provide solace to those of us who, as patients, have confronted difficult choices. The book is a literary instantiation of grace. In deeply poetical language, Stewart recruits a surprisingly wide range of Christian theological resources to illustrate one woman’s struggle to hear the voice of God…and in the process, to honor her own.”” –Andrea Frolic, Director, Office of Clinical & Organizational Ethics, Hamilton Health Sciences; Assistant Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University Medical Center Catherine Stewart has served as an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in Canada for twenty-five years.