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46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars " ' We don't do weather.' ", September 17, 2007
This review is from: Here If You Need Me: A True Story (Hardcover)
Perhaps Unitarian Universalist chaplains don't pray for weather (a joke in the book, actually), but here's a prayer Chaplain Braestrup offered for law enforcement officers:

" 'May you be granted capable and amusing comrades, observant witnesses, and gentle homecomings.

" 'May you be granted respite from what you know of human evil, and refuge from what you must know of human pain.

" 'May God defend the goodness in your hearts.

" 'May God defend the sweetness in your souls.' "

Kate Braestrup's HERE IF YOU NEED ME swoons, sighs, mourns, celebrates, and etches out new patterns of thought. In twenty beautifully written chapters that could be delivered as commencement speeches or sermons, tough-minded, tender-hearted Braestrup shines an examining spotlight into various corners of her life. She suddenly became a widowed mother of four. She studied for and was ordained to the U. U. ministry. She still is the chaplain to the Maine game wardens.

Her vivid, visceral prose grapples with the physical realities of life (and death) on the one hand. On the other, it contemplates tenderly, lovingly, such spiritual subjects as whether an afterlife exists or how suicides should be treated by the church. Freely irreverent, and often funny and pithy, Braestrup arranges glimpses of her various charges: her children, her game wardens, and the public she and the wardens serve with determination and full hearts.

But the author excels best when she unabashedly shares her own individuality. For instance, unease (or even revulsion) vies with admiration in the reader as Braestrup tells of bucking the modern trend of leaving the newly dead to the ministrations of funeral homes. She washed her dead husband's body herself and saw to the details of his cremation. And talk about think-for-herself theology: her perspective on miracles is unforgetably novel... "A miracle is not defined by an event. A miracle is defined by gratitude."

HERE IF YOU NEED ME is a miracle, too, in its own way. Readers may feel gratitude at sharing in Braestrup's memorable memoirs.
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