“Heart’s Oratorio: One Woman’s Journey through Love, Death and Modern Medicine”

By Mary Oak, Goldenstone Press, 2013

oratorio-front-coverA memoir about life (and near–death) with a genetic heart condition. This book is composed of many voices: physical and metaphysical; medical and mystical. It’s a love story, a heroine’s journey and a medical drama that explores the fragility and resilience of the human heart.

The journey portrayed reconciles the author’s family heritage of natural healing and the conflict that arises between a holistic and spiritual orientation with western technology. This literary non-fiction narrative weaves between personal and mythic realms, depicting a mother’s love for her children at risk and a woman’s love for a man who stands by her in the darkest hours. “Heart’s Oratorio” provides examples of the miraculous, offering hope to those dealing with chronic and life-threatening illness.

“Heart’s Oratorio” has been granted two silver book awards:

A Nautilus – Better Books for a Better World and an “Ippy”-  Independent Book Publishers.

Available for purchase from Goldenstone Press, as well as Steiner Press,~ or order a signed copy from me (check only). Heart’s Oratorio is being carried in the Seattle area at East West Bookshop and bookshops at Nalanda West Bastyr Naturopathic University and St Mark’s Cathedral.

Notes on the Form of Heart’s Oratorio


“In her journey, Mary Oak listens to her body all along the way. Her words enter one’s bloodstream as oxygen. Heart’s Oratorio is beautiful…a soul- sustaining, heart-saving healing grace. “

~ Terry Tempest Williams, Author of “When Women Were Birds”, “Finding Beauty in a Broken World”, “Leap” and “Refuge

“Mary Oak speaks for many in our time who dare to be fully present to our world. She reveals how openness and vulnerability bring forth great courage. This is how we return to source, discover our true capacity.”

~Joanna Macy, Author of “World as Lover, World as Self” and “Coming Back to Life: Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World”

 “This spiritual memoir takes the reader, intimately, through the intertwining of facing a life-threatening heart illness – not once, but many times, with a capacity to find, through the heart, courage to make quite incredible decisions – for an embodied spiritual life. This is truly an amazing book that portrays how, in our present world, spiritual beings are here, fully within the very body of the world, of Earth, and thus intimately with us.”

~Robert Sardello, Author of “Silence” and “Love and the Soul”

“Mary has woven her heart’s saga with vastly attentive, sumptuous compassion. She is a poetess moving through the scientific, emotional, philosophical, literary, personal understandings of her illness. As she befriends angels and medical technology, healers and strangers, she marvels with a style that is as detailed as it is beautiful. I am grateful Mary has taken the time to share her personal journey. Heart’s Oratorio inspires us to cherish lovingly, honestly and artistically all the experiences mortality offers to us.”

~Nancy Mellon, Author of “Body Eloquence: The Power of Myth and Story to Awaken the Body’s Energies”, (with Ashley Ramsden) and “Storytelling & the Art of Imagination”

“Heart’s Oratorio is a wise and liberating book for all those who are on a grace-full journey of dealing with that in our lives which we can’t control. This includes all of us. Mary Oak provides an original and deeply moving witness to the liberating power of enrolling in the Mystery School of illness and love, death and rebirth.”

~Melissa West, author of “Silver Linings: Finding Hope, Meaning and Renewal During Times of Transition” and “Exploring the Labyrinth: A Guide for Healing and Spiritual Growth”

“In Mary Oak’s complex memoir, Heart’s Oratorio, the author traverses the landscape of the wounded heart in many different ways. From the physical, to the emotional, to the spiritual, the author evolves from a child fascinated with the walk-through model of a human heart—entering the beating chambers and touching their walls—to a woman who struggles with serious heart disease. Closely observing her illness through the lens of earth spirituality, this mother of four comes to find that “’Earth’ and ‘Heart’ are both contained in ‘Hearth.’” This is a love story of vibrant dimension: the way a woman learns to love with a full heart, even when that heart has faltered.”

~ Brenda Miller, author of “Season of the Body” and “Blessing of the Animals”

“It’s difficult to put into words how this book affects you, but it does so in a powerful way. Partly it’s the beautiful musicality of the prose, which is rare in a memoir, but also it’s the author’s incredible story of resilience.  Her quiet insistence in facing her illness on her terms often puts her in direct opposition to the medical machine that has completely opposing motivations. As the reader is taken deep inside the Narrator’s heart on several different levels, this story will open your eyes to the realities of facing a life threatening illness in the US, and through the author’s story and her courage, we learn that each of us has the power to take charge of our own medical destiny, an important lesson so easily forgotten in the face of medical authority. An aspect of the story I didn’t expect, but appreciate and admire is the way in which the author weaves her passion for the sanctity of the earth, nature and in particular trees into her story, masterfully connecting her heart and it’s ills to that of nature and the ills of the earth in it’s present state. This is a story that stays with you, rendering its magic in all the best ways.”

 ~Abigail Carter, author of ” The Alchemy of Loss: A Young Widow’s Transformation” and “Remember the Moon”