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The Smell of Rain on Dust: Grief and Praise Paperback – Illustrated, April 14, 2015
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“Here Martín Prechtel sends us an invitation to peace: to personal, village-level, and world peace. His indigenous wisdom gives us much-needed insights into the reverberating impact of not grieving our heart-rending losses. Most poignantly, he shows us the devastating inheritance of our ever more voracious wars and the misunderstood burden of ghosts that swirl around our modern warriors. Yet, instead of leaving us more despondent, every chapter holds out a new seed, breaking into new life. Martín coaxes us through funny and quirky turns of the ordinary and the miraculous to leave us inspired to wake up singing to the beauty of our rising sun and live in praise of this complex and gracious world.”
—Inge Hindel, MD/PhD, family and integrated medicine doctor at Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center, Oregon
“Martín Prechtel’s genius takes many forms: painting, music, a continuously evolving learning community, and thank God, books like this one. I get so excited reading it, I cannot stay in one place. I sit reading on my porch…then back to my living room to make a fire and watch Martín’s gorgeously alive prose burn inside me. His ideas and language are so enlivening, my impulse is to quote great sections of it. I’ll just touch on a few of his brilliant insights around how animals help us to grieve, and to make our way out of grief into the beauty of praising. As he says, animals help us grieve our loss of naturalness. And we have mostly forgotten ‘the very old worldwide tribal custom of having a “grief relative” from the wild living together with us in our houses.’ Caring for animals is a sacred responsibility. To truly grieve and to weep deeply is something the animals really do help us with. And O they help us praise too, to accomplish that most marvelous art of turning the grief into praising. Martín tells us, ‘Let the world jump up and live again,’ and he makes that happen with his delicious sentences. Read this necessary, very beautiful book, and then read it again.”
—Coleman Barks, author of Rumi: Soul Fury
“Many veterans are now banding into “warrior societies” but do not know which direction to go. In my work, I see on a daily basis many new patients (veterans) coming in for help: some with traumatic brain injury (TBI), substance abuse (mainly alcohol), post-traumatic disorders, and the all-too-frequent ‘suicide attempt’ with which a new generation of warriors kick off the repressed memories of Vietnam-era warriors remembering what was suppressed for so many years, their minds desperately making an attempt to resolve an ungrieved, ghost-ridden past. The Smell of Rain on Dust beautifully addresses the possibility of a society of warriors so changed by having killed that they become a society of healers to heal those wounded in war, both old and new.”
—John Ishmael, RN BSN, nurse physician liaison and discharge planner at Salt Lake City Veterans Hospital
“Alchemy, by definition, metabolizes and transmutes. A reading of The Smell of Rain on Dust is alchemical. If the shredding of the glorious web of life has you sinking into a depth of despair, read this book; your grief can metabolize and transmute such wrongness. Deep and delightful, The Smell of Rain on Dust is also instructive. It will charm you into wanting to live life more fully, to walk in beauty even amongst modernity’s polarized spiritual failures.”
—Randy Hayes, director of Foundation Earth and founder of Rainforest Action Network
“Once again, Martin Prechtel is up to his old tricks … ‘making medicine out of poison.’ The Smell of Rain on Dust takes grief, pain, strife, and other elements of a society in distress and concocts a potion that actually heals those who have ears to listen. In a world that needs to grieve its wrongdoings but has lost its ability or forgotten its ancient wisdom to do so, Mr. Prechtel has been selected as a spokesman to reunite modern man with ancient wisdom. Not an enviable position!”
—H. Bruce Coslor, Vietnam veteran, Nebraska cattle rancher, songwriter, musician, and grandfather
“I love Martín’s book. It was amazing reading it aloud to the ocean. At one point I moved up the coast assuming the listening birds, seals, and whales would stay, but they moved with me. The waves listened and the wind. Read this magical book as it takes you into the courtyard of the heart.”
—M. Bacon, international award-winning documentary film director and producer
“This wonderful book The Smell of Rain on Dust not only addresses this culture’s lack of grief but it discusses in poignant ways how our inability to grieve has created many of our culture’s delirious, fast paced, toxic, constant state-of-emergency symptoms where depression, addiction, and mediocrity reign. As a mother, daughter, teacher, and farmer I found this book to stir up a deep prayer, that as a people we might, one day, through being with the depths of our grief, find so much love and deliciousness in being alive that we praise this life so genuinely, nothing is left unloved.”
—Melanie MacKinnon, teacher, farmer, and owner of Frog Belly Farms, Colorado
“I held my personal grief for decades until, with the help of the author, I ceremonially metabolized my grief into a thing of beauty. Like a magic genie, I popped out of the bottle I had crawled into with a renewed love of life. In The Smell of Rain on Dust: Grief and Praise, Prechtel leads the reader down this same trail of animals and life in the womb while revealing that grief is the sister of praise. Like Prechtel’s other books, this astonishing book draws me back to reexamine the beauty of a life lived well.”
—Wick Fisher, retired postmaster, Vietnam veteran, and orator at soldier funerals
“Brilliant gems of storytelling illuminate teachings of inspiration and hope in this new work by Martin Prechtel, a work to which he brings a traditional indigenous understanding of how to deal with loss.”
—Michael Harner, author of Cave and Cosmos and founder of the Foundation for Shamanic Studies
About the Author
- Publisher : North Atlantic Books; Illustrated edition (April 14, 2015)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 184 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1583949399
- ISBN-13 : 978-1583949399
- Item Weight : 9 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.49 x 0.48 x 8.51 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #45,514 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Grief and praise are thoroughly examined through the lens of many cultures. It has the potential to inspire or confuse. It's not your typical book, that's for sure. If you are looking for something outside of the box, this is it. Just download a sample first and make sure that it's your cup of tea.
“Crybaby” as a child and I would cry as if any sadness in the world was mine never knowing it was for the payment of those souls my father may have ended as a
Military man! He died of a heart attack so young! Definitely a book I will read over and over because the layers are so deep and transformative! Thanks and praise to the author for this supernatural transformative experience!!
I've learned more about grief than I thought it was possible to know. Yes, one misjudges, perhaps, gets hurt, feels pain and if the betrayal is deep enough, grief ensues or is buried. We all know this. But Prechtel brings us into a kaleidoscopic world of pain we never knew existed, a world that holds the meaning of grief psychologically, politically, financially, historically, mythically and spiritually. He draws us a picture that sparkles of grief's relationship to praise and the saving grace of praise, showing how it spins our big world and our little worlds. He flat out states, ". . . without grief we can never grow ourselves into real people."
He points out the relationship between suppressed grief and alcoholism. He homes in on returning vets, stating what I have always secretly believed: we humans are not cut out for such massacres and violence and ugly killings and we will pay for it with our souls. We are actually a gentle species, history notwithstanding. Additionally, Prechtel lays out for us the idea of one family member carrying "the old family grief" and the ramifications of that, a truly fascinating concept. Add in the idea of reincarnation (which he doesn't do) and the family picture becomes a marvel of connections that were heretofore unperceived. He speaks of revenge and its impulse to war, one of the best chapters in the book. He comments, " . . . it is truly nightmarish how easily and how quickly grief can be converted into group-endorsed violence." I think of Israel. I think of all the many Arab tribes, sects and subsects whose sole motivation seems to be revenge for events that sometimes took place hundreds of years ago. Well, every nation has its similar history. 9/11/2001. He remarks, "Revenge took no cultural talent." He understands that people's first reaction is to find and attack what caused their pain. Carefully, he points out, "But to retain revenge instead of going through the gauntlet of the sorrow of grief was too easy and would only 'freeze' grief in its tracks, turning the moment into toxic stone." In his poetic way he tells us something of healing, "But feelings were considered a kind of wind, and there was no need to freeze the wind, but better to thaw the clouds of hate into a rain of tears that fed the thirsty ground of the human soul."
There is not one bonafide therapist out there who would not profit from reading this deep little book -- and then be able to pass their knowledge on to their patients. Back to the Arabs. Arabic culture, for those of you who do not know, is a deeply poetic culture, filled with admirers of Rumi and Hafiz. If I had a million bucks I'd print Prechtel's book in a mix of Arabic and drop it by airplane on every Arabic country. Killing your fellow-man would look a lot less appetizing and suicide bomber sacrifices would be seen for the insanity they are, and utterly unnecessary for the people would then access their natural wisdom and discover an alternative to fighting, hatred, war and revenge. Please allow me my little fantasy.
The chapter on money as "grief not listened to" was a real eye-opener. But however interesting it was, I confess some of it flew over my head. I would have profited by a much longer chapter with more nitty-gritty examples. Though the book is only 170 pages long, every page holds gems of high value. His take on science made me laugh and nod, even as both he and I have respect for what it can do: "Science is basically a cult of measurement." I also loved his teachings about "real people." I wish there had been more of this as well. Regarding what a "real person" is, I felt a gut-level agreement as I read, "a person who knows that all the world's weather wildness is the grief-binge of the Earth herself as she wanders singing, howling, weeping through the streets of her own village: 'the universe,' in hopes of being heard."
As he connects us to the beautiful partnership between grief and praise (teaching me once again the truth that the Universe is a loving place whose structure is always geared to healing and love and wholeness, despite appearances) he cautions us, "If the way we live does not praise life, then we are not alive." I thought about that in my own life and I saw, after a little resistance, that it was true. We are half-dead and dying when we fail to see how beautiful and valuable we are, how beautiful and valuable our enemies are and what the world needs to become the paradise we have all, in our secret dreams, envisioned and hoped it to be. It needs us. All of us. Voices raised in appreciation for it ALL.
Martin Prechtel is a "savior" of the first order. I've read most of his books, innocent and profound, joyful and full of despair, but in the end he saves us from our selves in the only way one can be saved: not by power, not by money, not by safety, not by government or corporation, not even by therapy, but by that inward turning we all must do, facing our darkness, diving in and coming out the other side into the bright light of love, truth, healing and joy. It takes courage to do this, far more courage than quitting a job or relationship, having a child, going to war, moving across the world, or finding yourself in a disastrous flood or earthquake. Inner pain is the only demon life gives us. May you have the courage to face it. May this be your fate!
Top reviews from other countries
Instead, what I got was chapters concerning various stages of life where grief pops up as a force to be reckon with, only to then be confronted with the inability to actually do it (either personally in some situations, or as part of the human race). That was extremelly interesting and did give me some food for thought. It also made me realize some stuff that was happening in my life that I had no idea that was just that.
So, all in all, it was a very positive book. Positive in the sense that it did provide tools for evaluation, self-reflection and actual dealing with all that sith.
The disappointment with the lack of traditional stories might have eaten a star. But there still is more than enough to justify buying it.