pathwriter’s note: What a gift Anne Lamott is. I’m so glad her son and her editor talked her into getting on Facebook, because it means she writes posts like this from time to time—and usually just when I need them, like today.
This is a true story.
I have been doing a bunch of radio interviews to promote the coming paperback edition of Some Assembly Required, and so was in San Francisco recently. There was no street parking to be found, so I parked in an underground garage. I stuck the ticket in my wallet, went and did the interview, came back to the car, and got ready to leave.
But I couldn’t find my ticket. It wasn’t in my wallet. I looked for it there, again and again, but couldn’t find it, so I rifled through my purse. The ticket wasn’t there, either. I took everything out of the purse, put it on the passenger seat, and pawed through it, like a Samuel Becket character.
Sighing loudly, I looked everywhere it could have fallen—the console between the front seats, the ashtray, the floor, the glovebox. Then I got out, exasperated with myself. I am getting so spaced out.
I don’t want to be put in a home yet! Continue reading
My belief is that when you’re telling the truth, you’re close to God. If you say to God, “I am exhausted and depressed beyond words, and I don’t like You at all right now, and I recoil from most people who believe in You,” that might be the most honest thing you’ve ever said. If you told me you had said to God, “It is all hopeless, and I don’t have a clue if You exist, but I could use a hand,” it would almost bring tears to my eyes, tears of pride in you, for the courage it takes to get real—really real. It would make me want to sit next to you at the dinner table.
So prayer is our sometimes real selves trying to communicate with the Real, with Truth, with the Light. It is us reaching out to be heard, hoping to be found by a light and warmth in the world, instead of darkness and cold. Even mushrooms respond to light—I suppose they blink their mushroomy eyes, like the rest of us.
Light reveals us to ourselves, which is not always so great if you find yourself in a big disgusting mess, possibly of your own creation. But like sunflowers we turn toward light. Light warms, and in most cases it draws us to itself. And in this light, we can see beyond our modest receptors, to what is way beyond us, and deep inside.
~Anne Lamott, Help Thanks Wow: Three Essential Prayers
It’s funny: 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 do.
~Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith
What I have learned from the year past is something about miracles—miracles of healing and answered prayer and unexpected happy endings. Each came quietly and simply, on tiptoe, so that I hardly knew it had occurred.
All this makes me realize that miracles are everyday things. Not only the sudden, great good fortune, wafting in on a new wind from the sky. They are almost routine, yet miracles just the same.
Every time something hard becomes easier; every time you adjust to a situation which, last week, you didn’t know existed; every time a kindness falls as softly as the dew; or someone you love who was ill grows better; every time a blessing comes, not with trumpet and fanfare, but silently as night, you have witnessed a miracle.
~Faith Baldwin, Many Windows, Seasons of the Heart
pathwriter’s note: The following is an excerpt from Anne Lamott’s new book, Help, Thanks, Wow: Three Essential Prayers. I lifted the text from salon.com so that you could read it without the distraction of all the ads.
My Secret Little Prayer
It is all hopeless. Even for a crabby optimist like me, things couldn’t be worse. Everywhere you turn, our lives and marriages and morale and government are falling to pieces. So many friends have broken children. The planet does not seem long for this world. Repent! Oh, wait, never mind. I meant: Help.
What I wanted my whole life was relief—from pressure, isolation, people’s suffering (including my own, which was mainly mental), and entire political administrations. That is really all I want now. Besides dealing with standard-issue family crisis, heartbreak, and mishegas, I feel that I can’t stand one single more death in my life. That’s too bad, because as we speak, I have a cherished thirteen-year-old cat who is near death from lymphoma. I know I won’t be able to live without her.
This must sound relatively petty to those of you facing the impending loss of people, careers, or retirement savings. But if you are madly in love with your pets, as any rational person is, you know what a loss it will be for both me and my three-year-old grandson, Jax. My cat Jeanie has helped raise him, and it will be his first death. I told him that she was sick, and that the angels were going to take her from us. I tried to make it sound like rather happy news—after all, vultures aren’t coming for her, or snakes—but he wasn’t having any of it.
“Angels are taking Jeanie away?” Continue reading
pathwriter’s note: I love Anne Lamott. I am in awe of her open heart and her willingness to be so uncomfortably honest and so perfectly imperfect. She posted this (complete with typos) on her Facebook page just a few minutes ago.
Oh, all of you who have sustained hardship today, I am so sorry. i wish all of us at this site who are just watching could rush to help you. We really would if we could. Tell us if there is anything we can do, beside the obvious–donate, pray, breathe, wait for the water to recede, and be exquisitely kind–especially to ourselves. That’s the hardest thing.
I’m probably writing this to myself as much as to you, but it is okay to be having any inappropriate feelings and responses and obsessions you may be experiencing. If you still feel obsessed with the election, even in the face of these images of destruction, it’s really okay My mentor, Horrible Bonnie, would say that something beautiful is being revealed in the current weirdness, in brokenness and the not-knowing. I always say back, “Oh, yeah? REALLY?”. Then I swear I’ll never call again.
But it is, every time, no matter how huge the family mess, or loss, or in this case, nature’s terrifying power and force. Truth is revealed. People’s natural outpouring of generosity will be revealed, & their ability to sacrifice for the common good, which you don’t see all that often without darkness. How resilient and loving we are. How we ALWAYS end up getting our senses of humor back, which to me, is one of the ways we know grace is real.
I’m not suggesting that the next few days are going to be easy for Continue reading
The world has changed:
Wake up & smell
It did not
through the years
The world has changed: Continue reading
Photo by Lisa Tate
…I want first of all—in fact, as an end to these other desires—to be at peace with myself. I want a singleness of eye, a purity of intention, a central core to my life that will enable me to carry out these obligations and activities as well as I can. I want, in fact—to borrow from the language of the saints—to live ‘in grace’ as much of the time as possible. I am not using this term in a strictly theological sense. By grace I mean an inner harmony, essentially spiritual, which can be translated into outward harmony…”
~Anne Morrow Lindbergh
The concept of grace has surfaced a lot in my reading lately. However, like Lindbergh, I’m not talking about grace in a theological sense. Although my spiritual seeking has continued and even deepened over the years, I have long since ceased being a “religious” person.
Grace isn’t something you earn or deserve or make happen. Although you can pray for grace, it most often arrives unexpectedly and unbidden and manifests in such a way that it leaves you with a feeling of awe, of peace, of being blessed. Continue reading
Photo by Lisa Tate
I see or hear
that more or less
that leaves me
like a needle
in the haystack
It was what I was born for -
to look, to listen, Continue reading
Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer utters itself.
~Carol Ann Duffy
Photo by Lisa Tate
I don’t know who God is exactly.
But I’ll tell you this.
I was sitting in the river named Clarion, on a
water splashed stone
and all afternoon I listened to the voices
of the river talking….
And slowly, very slowly, it became clear to me
what they were saying.
Said the river I am part of holiness.
And I too, said the stone. And I too, whispered
the moss beneath the water.
I’d been to the river before, Continue reading
May I become at all times, both now and forever…
A protector for those without protection
A guide for those who have lost their way
A ship for those with oceans to cross
A bridge for those with rivers to cross
A sanctuary for those in danger
A lamp for those without light
A place of refuge for those who lack shelter
And a servant to all in need.
~The Dalai Lama