cover image A Life in Light: Meditations on Impermanence

A Life in Light: Meditations on Impermanence

Mary Pipher. Bloomsbury, $26.99 (310p) ISBN 978-1-63557-758-7

“Resilience is the ability to find light in dark times,” writes psychologist Pipher (Reviving Ophelia) in these radiant essays about how joy and loss often coexist. In lyrical vignettes, she traces the bright spots in her life, from her earliest memories—“dancing in the leaves of a tall tree in my grandmother’s front yard”—to finding in adulthood a “renewed appreciation for life as it is, not as I wish it to be.” But, invoking komorebi—a Japanese word that describes the ethereal “interplay of light and leaves” in trees—Pipher reveals her “sunlight” danced with shadows. In “A Motherless Child,” for instance, she describes how she found refuge from her difficult 1950s childhood—neglected by a veteran father who struggled with PTSD—in books, nature, and the “shiny yellow leatherette booth” in her aunt’s kitchen. “Pregnancy and Exile,” meanwhile, revisits Piper’s fraught pregnancy at age 21 “by a man I didn’t want to marry” in 1971, and the supportive friends that helped her through it. To nudge readers toward building their own “transcendent narratives,” she braids in insights from her 25 years as a therapist, citing how acknowledging “evidence of growth” in one’s story, regardless of how big or small, can open up pathways toward healing. Those struggling to overcome darkness will find a guiding light in this incandescent work. (June)