savoring anne lamott
I am currently reading my second Anne Lamott book, ‘Traveling Mercies‘ and enjoying it. Be warned though, this is not your usual read about how a hippie/intellectual-turned Christian-and-so-she-lived-happily-after. In fact, her faith journey is fraught with accounts of drugs, alcohol, numerous relationships, unwanted pregnancies. But her honest, brutal accounts of how God meets her in some of her most vulnerable moments leave me in awe of God’s amazing grace. In fact, when I shared parts of her story with CS, his candid response was ‘if I am God, I’d have walked away.’ Am I glad that God is God and none of us will ever be!
For fear of doing a dismal job in paraphrasing her, here are snippets from her book:
pg 43: (on what it means to be ‘saved’ in the Christian jargon) “I guess it’s like discovering you’re on the shelf of a pawnshop, dusty and forgotten and maybe not worth very much. But Jesus comes in and tells the pawnbroker, ‘I’ll take her place on the shelf. Let her go outside again.'”
pg 68: (on grief when she lost her best friend to cancer) “…what I’ve discovered since is that the lifelong fear of grief keeps us in a barren, isolated place and that only grieving can heal grief; the passage of time will lessen the acuteness, but time alone, without the direct experience of grief, will not heal it.”
“…the bad news is that whatever you use to keep the pain at bay robs you of the flecks and nuggets of gold that feeling grief will give you. A fixation can keep you nicely defined and give you the illusion that your life has not fallen apart.”
pg 75: (on life) “Life does not seem to present itself to me for my convenience, to box itself up nicely so I can write about it with wisdom and a point to make before putting it on a shelf somewhere.”
pg 89: (chapter on church, people, steeple)
Late Fragment – Raymond Carver
And did you get what
you wanted from this life even so?
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.
pg 97: (about an old lady from church who was going blind in her eighties) “..that was heroic of her, that it spoke of such integrity to refuse to pretend that you’re doing well just so to help other people deal with the fact that sometimes we face an impossible loss.”
pg 100: (on church) “The church became my home in the old meaning of home – that it’s where, when you show up, they have to let you in.”
pg 103: (on community) “I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox, full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools – friendships, prayer, conscience, honesty – and said Do the best you can with these, they will have to do. And mostly, against all odds, they’re enough.”
pg 106: (how the book’s title was derived) “This is what they (the old people at church) always say when one of us goes off for a while. Traveling mercies: love the journey, God is with you, come home safe and sound.”
pg 138 & 139: (on grace) “I know nothing, except what everyone knows – if there when Grace dances, I should dance.” (W.H. Auden)
“I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.”
And my favourite quote from the book thus far:
pg 145: (by her son Sam aged seven) “I think I already understand about life: pretty good, some problems.”