The Moonlight Sonata at the Mayo Clinic, by Nora Gallagher

Moonlight_lgI’ve been delighted and enriched in the past by Nora Gallagher’s spiritual memoirs, especially Things Seen and Unseen.  Her latest book tells about a period in her life when she faced an unexplained and troubling health scare and how it affected all aspects of her life, particularly her spiritual life. She’s insightful on the topic of how it feels to become a patient, shuffled around throughout the healthcare system as doctors (some excellent, some not so good) run tests and try out various theories on what’s wrong with her. For some readers, that may be the heart of the book. For me, having come to her work through her insightful and moving portrayals of the inner life of a devout liberal Episcopalian who at one time trained for the priesthood (though she chose not to be ordained), I was most interested in how her illness affected Gallagher’s spiritual life. While many people, in the midst of a personal crisis, find that their faith becomes stronger and the idea of an all-powerful God sustains them, Gallagher’s reaction was just the opposite. The concept of an all-powerful Father God seemed more alien than it ever had, and the idea of Jesus as that God’s divine Son was equally difficult to relate to. The human, suffering Jesus remained important to her faith, although attending church — once a staple of Gallagher’s life — fell by the wayside. It’s interesting, though sad in a way, to read a spiritual memoir that subverts the usual “Suffering brought me closer to God” script — but Nora Gallagher is always capable of surprising her readers. While this is not a book I’ll reread multiple times like I did Things Seen and Unseen, it offered some interesting insights and I’m glad to have read this latest chapter in Gallagher’s journey.

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Filed under Nonfiction -- memoir

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