“Stations of the Heart”
Richard Lischer, James T. and Alice Mead Cleland Professor of Preaching at Duke Divinity School, has written a new memoir, Stations of the Heart: Parting with a Son, the poignant story of his son’s illness and death in 2005.
Published by Alfred A. Knopf in April, the book has drawn national and international attention from the Christian and popular media including Booklist, Publishers Weekly, Guideposts magazine, the Toronto Star, and The Christian Century.
In the book, Lischer evokes the grace, humor and daring faith with which his son, Adam, faced cancer and his impending death. The story begins with Adam’s baptism in a country church in southern Illinois and ends with another baptism, his daughter Elizabeth’s, after her father’s death.
Lischer tells the story of one last summer and the young man who lived it as honestly and faithfully as possible. The reader meets Adam in several phases of his life, but always through the narrowing lens of his undying hope, when in the final season of his life he becomes his family’s and his father’s spiritual leader. Stations of the Heart reflects theologically on suffering, death, grief and the terrible blessing of saying good-bye.
“He was so young and inexperienced he thought he had discovered a new way to die,” writes Lischer. Adam called it his “new path,” and it eventually led him to the source of everything and everyone he loved.
“We traveled the path with him,” Lischer writes, “but at a respectful distance behind him .... The last leg of his trip took him exactly ninety-five days. We never imagined how much grace would be required for so brief a journey. Now we rely on it every day.”
Lischer has taught preaching at Duke for 33 years, and for more than a decade has taught courses on religious autobiography and memoir. This year he received a Henry Luce III Fellowship for continued research in religious autobiography.
He also is the author of many books including The Preacher King: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Word that Moved America, The End of Words, and Open Secrets: A Memoir of Faith and Discovery.