A PIECE OF SKY, A GRAIN OF RICE: A memoir in four meditations ~Christine Hale
I just need to state at the very beginning of this review that I am so happy I was sent this book for reading and review. What a wonderful book, which arrived at perfect timing for what is happening in our world and the politics of the day. So many people right now are asking why do people remain so ignorant and do not change their minds? This memory is about how one of those people, who value programmed in the Blue Collar realm of Southern USA and how much effort it took to learn to reprogram those values and help her children succeed.
“In this layered collage of memory within memory, Hale recreates for readers her kaleidoscopic experience of a decades-long journey to acceptance and insight. Writer, prodigal daughter, single parent, Buddhist disciple, and, late in midlife, a newlywed, she is transformed through an unconventional relationship with a female spiritual teacher and an odd ritual of repeated tattooing with her two young adult children. “ (from book cover)
A PIECE OF SKY, A GRAIN OF RICE is poetically written as the segments over lap in telling her story and piecing together the facets of a life. From her parents love-hate relationship and hard work ethic,over years of self-study and volunteering in a domestic violence center in New York, this southern woman begins to understand how physical, verbal, and sexual abuse played out in her own family and that was considered the normative behaviors of her historic family and of the culture of the working class. Christine Hale drugged herself up for awhile and then found a mentor who assisted her in digging her way out and making changes, which led to changes in her own family structure and breaking the pattern and the mold of enculturation she had endured.
TLC Book Tours sent me a copy of this book for review.
The author also studied at the same school I did in North Carolina and now lives in the same area I did my first social work practicum. At 20, I arrived from a family that discussed everything and had value programmed with one “British Rules” parent and one “Creative Genius” thinker and I could see clearly in my new surroundings the stuck in a rut life systems that were not going to work in the new century – how to change awareness and values? It seemed to take a great deal of pain and the desire to change to escape one’s early programming. Hale experiences that pain and sometimes believes her only “out” is suicide and yet she persists and change happens. The telling of her story certainly opens doors for others to step through and find new hope and not just escape and death. Change is hard work.
Even without getting tattooed most of us can benefit from reading this beautiful memoir and it may help many others in the reading.
Though I have to say that most Buddhist retreats I have partaken of, the centers have been immaculate and beautiful in their earthy settings and natural silence. Her teacher’s centers were fairly awful facilities and would have made it extremely difficult for me not to be distracted and nearly impossible to let go. More power to Christine Hale
From the cover:
“Christine Hale is the author of a novel, BASIL’S DREAM. Ms. Hale’s creative non-fiction has appeared in ARTS & LETTERS, SPRY, STILL, HIPPOCAMPUS, and PRIME NUMBER, among other journals. A fellow of MacDowell, Ucross, Hedgebrook, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, she earned her MFA from Warren Wilson College. She teaches in the Antioch University – Lost Angeles Low Residency MFA Program as well as the Great Smokies Writing Program in Asheville, North Carolina, where she and her husband live.”