Reflections with God while Waiting to Be Healed Written by Linda Seger The Alphabet Prayer Written by Linda Seger and Peter Le Var Reviewed by Anthony Manousos
Linda Seger has had a remarkably successful career as a script consultant, writer, and workshop leader, traveling all over the world. She has also had what she calls a “happy life.” In 2002, she moved with her husband Peter to a beautiful log cabin house in Colorado and fulfilled her dream of owning a horse and becoming an equestrian. Having achieved so many of her life’s goals, she wrote a book about the challenges of being successful. Then her life’s trajectory changed dramatically. In 2008, she was diagnosed with a rare disease called cervical dystonia, a neurological disorder that causes her head to turn or get stuck to the left.
Suddenly she found herself unable to do many of the things she took for granted. Six years later, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She found herself on a healing journey that is still ongoing.
As part of her healing, she wrote this book, a series of short reflections on the practical as well as spiritual aspects of dealing with a long-term illness. A Christian Quaker with a doctorate and M.A. degrees in theology and drama, she draws on the wisdom of the Bible as well as other spiritual sources. She describes with deep feeling and honesty her relationships with God and Jesus.
Her faith is experiential, not dogmatic. As she grapples with theological questions about the meaning of suffering, she doesn’t offer simplistic or definitive answers. She invites us to explore tough questions with her. One chapter ends with this series of open-ended questions: “How do I allow God to infiltrate my life when my illness feels as if it is keeping God out? . . . How do I recognize that nothing truly can keep me from the love of God?”
Such questions invite readers to join in a healing journey that many of us will face sooner or later. Reading this book is like having a conversation with an old and trusted friend. Linda tells moving and sometimes funny stories along with snippets of wisdom from the Bible and other sources, but most and best of all, she shares her own experiences and insights. She discovers in her illness the opportunity to live life more abundantly and faithfully.
Her husband Peter – an acupuncturist, massage therapist, and poet – also embarked upon a healing journey when he herniated two discs in his spine and was flat on his back for three months. The pain of his injury was “crippling and overwhelming,” but not fruitless. Peter was led to deepen his connection with God through prayer, and he began alphabetizing his prayers. With Linda’s encouragement and additions, they wrote a devotional book called The Alphabet Prayer, a series of reflections for each letter of the alphabet. Enhanced by the lovely calligraphy of Matt Wright, each page of this little book includes a biblical quote, a reflection, and open-ended questions – as well as memorable alliterative prayers, such as this: “Patient and powerful presence, empower me to persevere on your path toward peace.” Given the times we live in, I say, Amen!
Full disclosure: I have known, admired and appreciated Linda and her husband Peter for nearly thirty years, having met them when Linda was clerk of Santa Monica Meeting. In 1989 she presided as clerk at my wedding to Kathleen Ross, who passed away of cancer seven years ago. I felt honored to be asked to write this review, and was so impressed and moved by Reflections with God that I ordered two copies – one for my best friend, who is battling cancer, and one for my current wife Jill, who struggles with chronic pain. As a reviewer, I don’t usually purchase multiple copies of a book to hand out to people I love, but this book is exceptional. It is good medicine for the soul. ~~~
Anthony Manousos is a previous editor of Western Friend and a current member of Orange Grove Meeting in Pasadena (PYM).