Mental Health Monday: Healing the Split and Restoring the Image

RestoringBrokenPeople2.164232629So, I was tagged on Facebook to share “10 books that have stayed with you in some way.” Of course I did two lists: one for fiction and one for non-fiction. I won’t share the fiction list here, but the non-fiction list includes several books that have had a significant impact on my mental health. Some of these are more “spiritual” than “mental health,” but I always hate to separate all that out in my being, you know? At Nativity, Orthodox Christians celebrate that Christ came to heal the split in our persons. I think the actual words in the pre-Nativity tropar verses say something like this:

Prepare, O Bethlehem,
For Eden has been opened to all.
Adorn yourself, O Ephratha,
For the Tree of Life blossoms forth from the Virgin in the cave.
Her womb is a spiritual paradise planted with the fruit divine;
If we eat of it, we shall live forever and not die like Adam.
Christ is coming to restore the image which He made in the beginning.

To “restore the image which He made in the beginning.” I love that. And while Christ’s incarnation kicked off this process of healing the split and restoring the image, God is using lots of human hands (and words from books written by healers) to continue the process of healing with me. And so I offer some of the books that have helped me in the process so far:

Sinners Welcome and Lit (and Cherry, and Liar’s Club) by Mary Karr

All Out of Faith: Southern Women on Spirituality (and Circling Faith: Southern Women on Spirituality) edited by Jennifer Horne and Wendy Reed

Dry by Augusten Burroughs (and also This is How: Help For the Self)

The Unbreakable Child by Kim Michelle Richardson

In the Sanctuary of Outcasts by Neil White

Grace Eventually by Anne Lamott

Mystery and Manners by Flannery O’Connor

Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeleine L’Engle

The Spiritual Life and How To Be Attuned To It by Saint Theophan the Recluse

Beginning to Pray by Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

The Wounded Healer by Henry J. M. Nouwen

Appetites: Why Women Want by Caroline Knapp

That’s the list I put on Facebook. But I would add to that list, at least these additional books:

Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp

The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd

Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks and a Writer’s Life by Kathleen Norris

Finding My Voice by Dianne Rehm

How to Be An Adult by David Richo

Restoring Broken

Okay, I’ll stop there. Hope some of these are helpful to anyone who is looking for help healing that split. Maybe I’ll share my fiction list soon… and then I think I’ll create a poetry list. But I’d love to hear from you: What books are helping you heal?



2 thoughts on “Mental Health Monday: Healing the Split and Restoring the Image”

  1. Good books all, Susan, and good words. Healing the split is certainly the goal of all humankind. As a Jungian, and a follower of Fr. Richard Rohr (Franciscan), I continually work on spreading the word that we are all trying to get back to the womb of God, to become whole once again as at our birth. I am preaching on the 22nd and am working on what the Holy Spirit is calling me to say and interestingly I just read over the past few days the beautiful Orthodox prayers (here: and am drawn to these words…the world offers a cave to the unapproachable one.
    Words inspire, whether ancient or modern, fiction or non. I admire those who can express themselves and their stories of their journeys on the orb we call earth, our island home.

    1. I’m sure that will be a great sermon on the 22nd, Emma! And I love that hymn. When we became Orthodox, I missed the Protestant Christmas carols (which we only sing at social events) but then I inherited many theologically rich Orthodox hymns, including the one you inked to. Thanks, always, for reading and adding your insights here.

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