Saturday, April 9, 2011

Gray Matter ~ by David Levy, MD with Joel Kilpatrick

 When I first received this book, I read the back cover, and set it aside. It didn't appear that it would be the type of book that I would be interested in, so I decided to hold off on reviewing it for a while. I finally picked it up and began to read one cold, stormy evening, and I haven't been the same since.

No other book about spiritual journeys, or relationships with God have ever touched me as deeply as this book. I read it, with the full expectation that it would be a decent read, and perhaps I would learn a bit about the personal struggles of a neurosurgeon. The book definitely deals with the personal struggles, but it is so much more than that. This book literally touched my soul.

Dr. Levy begins by sharing his desire to get to know his patient's in a deeper way then their diagnosis. He feels that by delving into their lives on a spiritual level, he can treat them as whole people, rather than merely a medical problem needing surgery. His idea ~ to pray with his patients before and after their surgery. "To say that praying out loud with a patient before surgery would put me out on a limb is putting it mildly. It would catapult me out of the tree." Once he finally finds the courage to take the first step and pray with a patient, his life changes. The simple act of saying a prayer with his patient Mrs. Jones has a profound effect on him and her. They part and prepare for surgery in a cloud of peace.

Not all of his patients are receptive to the idea of praying with Dr. Levy. Some are downright hostile. But the ones that he shares the intimate spiritual moment with are forever changed. As the narrative continues, Dr. Levy explores deeper spiritual awakenings with his patients, from finding forgiveness and breaking free of bitterness and anger. Not all of his surgeries have the outcome he desires, some fail miserably, but the journey is nonetheless deeply moving and triumphantly inspiring.

I found myself in tears after several of the stories, and had to put the book down for moments in order to let the weight of them sink in. I was completely taken in by Dr. Levy's honesty about some of the more difficult cases, his occasion struggle with his own faith, and how he found his way back each time. "...if you want to do something well, you have to be willing to do it poorly at first."

This book was an amazing read. Throughout the narrative, I would stop and contemplate Dr. Levy's message. I found myself forgiving those who have harmed me in the past, letting go of bitterness that has been festering in my soul for far too long. I felt closer to finding my way down my own spiritual path, and it felt wonderful. This book has deeply affected me, more so than any devotional I have ever read. I highly recommend reading Gray Matter. It may not change your life, but it will certainly make you stop and think, even if just for a moment.

I received an ARC (advanced reader copy) of this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

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