Mending of a Broken Heart: The Nature of Meaning and the Purpose that Gives Life Hope

James Michael Castleton, MD

Publisher: WestBow Press Pages: 406 Price: (paperback) $27.95 ISBN: 9781512748444 Reviewed: February, 2017 Author Website: Visit »

What is the purpose of our lives? James Michael Castleton, a physician and a fellow of the American College of Cardiology and National Heart Institute hopes to answer that question in his poignant work, Mending of a Broken Heart.

In a series of spiritual meditations, journal entries, theological commentary, memoir, and poetry, the author waxes philosophical on the differences between happiness (an event) and meaning (a state of being) and such topics as fatherhood, prayer, and marriage. His insight, hard-earned from years of self-doubt and struggling to understand his own purpose in life, rings humbly and true: “I did not appreciate that life could be meaningful without being happy,” the author writes, “…that the self-sacrifice that yields meaning may come at the cost of the very things on which happiness most depends. I erroneously assumed that if I were unhappy then my life lacked significance.” These are wise words.

Castleton argues that at the heart of personal experience is the journey of faith, “a most marvelous and sobering of all journeys, for the transformation of one’s heart transforms the questions one asks, the values one holds, the world one perceives, and the life one lives.” His deep Christian faith is put to the test, however, when his beloved soul mate, known in the book simply as H, is put through a series of medical examinations in search of cancer. To challenge him even more, shortly thereafter H’s beloved father is diagnosed with lymphoma. Both events force Castleton to confront how suffering influences our spiritual lives. “It is a poignant fact that God’s good may mean experiencing heartache and loss,” he writes.

Rich in metaphor, Mending of a Broken Heart is heartfelt, poetic, and beautifully written, offering wise reflections on the nature of life, death, suffering, and trying to find our way through an often- challenging world. Readers of Robert Wicks, C.S. Lewis and Henri Nouwen, will find much to appreciate here.

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