A memoir recommended for those who have had a close encounter with death who can find healing in nature and who want to learn how to be weak as well as strong.
In the summer of 1991, Gretel Ehrlich was out walking her dogs on her ranch in Wyoming when she was struck by lightning during a thunderstorm. Four hours later, she was treated in a substandard hospital. Having separated from her husband, Ehrlich decided to recuperate in Santa Barbara, California, where her parents lived.
She has written about her experiences in A Match to the Heart: One Woman's Story of Being Struck by Lightning. Ehrlich's perspective on her momentary death and two-year recovery is refreshingly idiosyncratic. She is an astonishing nature writer and that gift comes shining through in her reveries about the healing powers of water contrasted to the havoc wrought in her body by fire. Staying in several houses by the Pacific Ocean, Ehrlich lets the sun, the sand, the waves, and the sea life soothe her soul. A monk from Japan who visits says, "You have always been so strong. Now it is time to learn about being weak. This is necessary for you."
Suffering from a chaotic heartbeat and a "fried" sympathetic nervous system, Ehrlich puts herself in the capable and caring hands of Blaine, a cardiologist. He feeds her interesting data the workings of the heart and even allows her to see one beating during an operation.
Near the end of the book, Ehrlich notes, "My old life had been erased in one-thousandth of a second and now I was trying to fly with clipped wings." The author's walks enable her to care for her body. Her observations on the heart, doctor-patient relationships, and the loyalty of her favorite dog keep her spirits up. But most of all, Ehrlich's love of the natural world is what pulls her through. We're fortunate to accompany her on this spiritual journey.