***This book was reviewed by independent request and via Netgalley
Amazon Wisdom Keeper is the inspiring story of one woman’s life, as she struggles to find her place amidst the turmoil of revolution, culture shock, and family who has a hard time understanding and appreciating her sensitive, empathic nature. As a child, Van Tuyl lived in Suriname, a small country mostly covered by Amazonian rainforest. With her perceptive nature, she was drawn at a young age to the rainforest, with an instinctive knowledge of the rich wisdom it contained, of harmony and balance and the living spirits that exist everywhere. She also learned at a young age to not let people see how sensitive she was to things. By sensitive, I mean empathic, but those born this way get overwhelmed easy by emotion, their own as well as others.
All too soon, revolution overcame the country, driving her family away to Florida, for fear of being killed by government brutes. This move meant safety for her family, but it also meant leaving the cradle of the rainforest behind, with so many lessons yet unlearned, and it meant facing a new culture where she didn’t speak the language as well. Tumultuous times in Miami were followed by a move to California where Van Tuyl began to blossom again. College led to the discovery of the field of psychology, eventually leading to another soul crisis as she struggled to reconcile the (white) Western-dominated theories with the rich inner knowing she had cultivated, and the lack of multicultural perspectives within psychology. Thankfully, she had met a wonderful man who was supportive of her work. Van Tuyl eventually returned to Suriname, to conduct a research project focused in the values she held most dear. She would continue to make strides in this arena, teaching others how to open to intuitive wisdom, and the beautiful lessons of nature.
I cannot even imagine living in a country where there are people ‘disappeared’ by their own government, and where flight to a new country is necessary. Van Tuyl’s abrupt relocation to Miami, with its patently Western culture, sent her into a tailspin. It took several years to accept, and work out the damage. I loved the shy reunion with her inner child. It was a touching reminder that we all have inner children that keep a part of our intuitive wisdom. Indeed, children themselves have less prejudices, and can see with clearer eyes.
Her da’s views on religion, how there is no ‘absolute’ that is the only right view resonated with me on a deep level. There are many perspectives. If one insists they are the only true thing, FLEE! Van Tuyl’s reasons for studying psychology echo why I chose to study anthropology- to understand and continue to integrate the wisdom first cultivated in me by my grandmother. My grandmother raised me with respect for the Great Spirit, and a love of Earth Wisdom. Her grandmother was Cherokee, and passed many lessons to her. She was able to do as Van Tuyl, synthesizing a harmony between Western thought, and Indigenous American beliefs. Those lessons she passed to me, and I continue that synthesis. Van Tuyl seems to have had another turning point when she learned of the Lakota medicine wheel. This became encouragement to continue following along paths misunderstood or openly ridiculed.
????? Highly recommended, for any with a love of or interest in Earth Wisdom, memoirs, or psychology.