- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: Knopf; 3.3.2013 edition (April 2, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0307960536
- ISBN-13: 978-0307960535
- Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 53 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #547,807 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Stations of the Heart: Parting with a Son Hardcover – Deckle Edge, April 2, 2013
The Amazon Book Review
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Lischer’s only son, Adam, died of rapidly metastasizing melanoma in 2005. He was 33. Ten days later, Adam’s only child, a daughter, was born. While hardly suppressing his own feelings, Lischer resolutely focuses on Adam in this memoir provoked by the not-the-way-it’s-supposed-to-be thing that happened to him. He retreats to Adam’s precarious neonatal days and childhood coping with a mysterious neurological disorder that largely abated in his midteens. Thereafter, Adam blossomed, initially onstage, then following his mother into law practice. Marrying in his twenties, he’d just won a high-profile murder case for the defendant when a melanoma was discovered and surgically excised. Sixteen months later, the cancer was back; 94 days later, he was dead. He said he’d had a charmed life, and part of what is impressive about his questioning father’s chastely worded, clear-eyed account is that we come to appreciate that. An immensely positive and congenial person, Adam used his time well, completing conversion to Catholicism and using daily prayer rituals with his wife to bless his child in the womb. Quite extraordinary. --Ray Olson
Praise for Richard Lischer’s Stations of the Heart
“Stations of the Heart is a book after my own heart, profound, gorgeous, deeply spiritual and human, beautifully written, heartbreaking, but also, because of the writer's wisdom and spirit, triumphant."—Anne Lamott
“Quite extraordinary. . . Lischer’s only son, Adam, died of rapidly metastasizing melanoma in 2005. He was 33. . . He said he’d had a charmed life, and part of what is impressive about his questioning father’s chastely worded, clear-eyed account is that we come to appreciate that. An immensely positive and congenial person, Adam used his time well, completing conversion to Catholicism and using daily prayer rituals with his wife to bless his child in the womb.”—Ray Olson, Booklist
“A fond view of a father-son relationship and a loving tribute from a minister to a son who chose a different spiritual path in his life and to his death.”—Kirkus Reviews
“In this tender, searching, resigned memoir and tribute to [his son] Adam, Lischer relives the final three-month journey that he, his wife, and [Adam’s wife] traveled with Adam, recalling with grace and humor memories of Adam in his elementary school days, his college days, and his quest to change the world around as a modern-day Atticus Finch”—Publishers Weekly
“Stations of the Heart deserves a place alongside these classics [John Gunther’s inspirational Death Be Not Proud and Nicholas Wolterstorff’s anguished Lament for a Son] for many reasons. It is elegant without excess, personal without self-absorption, profoundly emotional without sentimentality. . . . It looks beyond the one man’s death to the death we all will face. It raises religious and philosophical questions without offering pat answers.”—LaVonne Neff, Christian Century
“An inspirational memoir . . . Lischer is a fine writer—self-aware, humorous and unstinting in describing the outrage of a son dying before his father.”—Sarah Murdoch, The Toronto Star
"By the story’s close, you'll have laughed, prayed, shaken your fist at the sky, and wept along with the author and his family. Lyrical, wise, and full of warmth, Stations of the Heart accomplishes what only the best memoirs can: it bears witness to the unimaginable and gives voice to the inarticulable.”—David McGlynn, author of A Door in the Ocean
"As he grieved over the loss of his son, Richard Lischer gradually discovered that he had been given a new role — as the interpreter of his own son’s death. In this tender and loving book, Lischer does indeed become an interpreter, not only of his son’s death but also of the fragile and beautiful relationships that make life both a peril and a gift for us all. Lischer is a faithful witness whose truthful and searing testimony evokes memory, provokes tears, and finally points powerfully toward hope."
—Thomas G. Long, author of What Shall We Say? Evil, Suffering, and the Crisis of Faith
Top customer reviews
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This is a book for people of faith, but it is for people of a particular kind of faith. This will hardly satisfy the dogmatic. It is not out to paste band aids over the wounds of fear and loss. It faces hard questions and learns to live with a faith that depends solely on holding hands in the center of darkness. I was deeply moved by this journey of 93 days while a young man comes to terms with mortality as well as the approaching birth of his first child. His practice of his faith, the daily visit he and his wife make to their church to receive the sacrament, his sense of humor and his determination to do whatever it took to hold off those last days until he could see his daughter and hold her in his arms - all witnessed by his parents and affirmed by them - is the story of a family that won far more than our admiration and respect. They showed me how much we all can learn from this - the final chapter we all must live. Beautifully written, candid, appropriately light-hearted at times yet honestly frank, we discover a new way to affirm there is life beyond death, a life far more deeply satisfying and real than we could have imagined.
This book goes on my shelf with a select few that have changed my life. It may be a while before I can pick it up again, but read it again I know I will.
Lischer goes beyond telling of the tragic loss of a beautiful and loving son, because through his focus on family, finally to the baptism of that son's newborn after his death, we see at least a glimpse of the power of Resurrection. The life of that family will go on, generation after generation. The blessings of a eucharistic leitmotif tell of one generation that reaches to the past and to the future, through what can best be understood through the words "This is my body, given for you." I have no way to explain the impact of such a life-giving story, beautifully and honestly told, upon my reading, which throughout is a faithful expression of the deep faith that assails us when we least want it perhaps, and when we most seek it. This finally is not only his story, but the story of us all, however our own stories will be told.
Jean Rodenbough, author listed on Amazon
Dr. Jeremy Begbie recommended this book in a lecture at a church conference I attended, as an example of "lament." Was he ever right about that! As an Episcopal priest for over 30 years, I've dealt with a lot of death in both my personal life and public ministry, so I always have an interest in reading books on this subject. Adam's story (the author's son) was so compelling...I don't even have words to describe what I want to say....except to say to Dr. Lischer, "Thank you for writing it."
I recommend it to most, but not all...certainly not those who are gravely ill or currently going through intense grief. In my opinion, it's a book for either well before or well after that time. But I could see in certain circumstances, it might be helpful to those in grieving pain. That would be a pastoral call based on how well you know the person. For instance, I would certainly not recommend this book to my son who has had the same disease that killed his son, although I know he enjoys true stories of authentic and raw humanity with existential faith struggles. It's very intense from that angle, and equally powerful. You will want to pray, reflect, journal and repent, as a result of reading this book.
After reading the book I feel like I know the entire family, especially Adam and his dad. Adam's courageous way that he approached his life after such a devastating diagnosis is truly admirable and reflects a very deep faith. But the same can certainly be said for his wife Jenny, his mom and dad, and his sister Sarah. ALL of them leaned into the reality of Adam's final journey, a day at a time, and processed so much over those 95 days, and of course, beyond. The insights will resonate with anyone who has ever lost a loved one and knows the pain that it creates. And the sometimes very intense sense of lostness, aloneness and confusion when a loved one is suffering so (this is described so well), seems to be where the rubber hits the road, so to speak....that is, the place where faith seems to have it's roots, as its strength grows most in spite, or more likely because, of our personal weakness, even when it sometimes doesn't feel like it.
I wrote these words for myself a few years ago, on the anniversary of my mother's death: "Grief is a gift created by God that is a necessary treatment to bring relief to intense heartache. Lean into the grief, don't ignore it or allow yourself to be distracted. Tears are the ointment given by God that bring healing to the heart's open wounds. The scars of grief will always remain, and we'll want them to, because they're reminders that we've been inflicted by love's wounds and survived them by God's grace." It seems to me that part of the celebration of life is the necessary grieving that comes with it. This book helped me get reacquainted with an my old friend grief, an essential gift that keeps on giving for those with eyes of faith to see. Grief anoints us with the healing salve of God's grace and presence that covers the mysteries that are incomprehensible on this side of that thin veil that separates us from Glory. I'm not sure it ever entirely goes away, nor am I convinced that it should.
I still go the cemetery to remember my loved ones who have died, but I go to the altar to encounter them, because as was stated many time in the book, the Communion of Saints teaches us that wherever Jesus is present, so are those who lie hidden in him. As the liturgy says, "with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven" they are there whenever and wherever Jesus is worshiped and adored.
This is a amazing book in my opinion...no academic theory at all....just real life stuff as is seen and experienced every day...extremely well written. We all die. There's no getting around it. That realization is part of the beauty of this book, especially for those with eyes of faith to see. This is a book that will create much valuable reflection concerning life and death...but not for everyone, as mentioned. Personally, I wouldn't buy a bunch and give them away indiscriminately. Read it first yourself, and process it after you read. Then decide who to give it to. I gave one each to my physicians and one to the funeral director with whom I work a lot. A very hard book to put down. I give it FIVE STARS!!