pathwriter’s note: I count myself among those who grumble at Facebook when they change the format of the newsfeed or choose which of my friends’ posts I’m going to see. However, Facebook has also reconnected me with far-flung and long-lost friends, for which I will forever be grateful, and it allows me to connect with the brilliance of some of my favorite authors, like Anne Lamott, on a regular basis, without having to wait for the next book. I love Anne Lamott for her flawed, oh-so-human faith and doubts, her railings and rantings at God and the unfairness of it all (sometimes), her crazy-raw honesty. She says the things we all think and feel but wouldn’t dare say out loud, and she hasn’t been struck by lightning yet, which should make us all a little braver about saying some of those things ourselves. Her language is peppered with less-than-holy words, which I think a lot of us also think, even if we don’t say them out loud. I hope the language won’t put you off, that you will see through it to the heart of her words.
Every morning these days, you have to ask yourself, What the hell IS it all about, Alfie? Or you pray for a sign that you absolutely cannot miss or misinterpret, the tiniest hint of direction and assurance.
Well? I got one.
It has been one of the worst week in years, and that’s saying something. You know exactly what I’m talking about, no matter how much you love your life and your pit crew; no matter how hard you strive to present a good face. It is so hard here. It’s like Old Yeller meets the Hunger Games; plus the parking is terrible.
Under the best circumstances, we are a nutty and sometimes violent species, on an extremely dangerous piece of land.
But one of the saddest things happened. We had to put my darling old dog Lily down. She died peacefully at home in my son Sam’s arms on Wednesday.
I think she was the closest I’ll come, on this side of eternity, to experiencing the direct love of the divine. You may know the feeling.
Through this love, Sam and I came through. We cried a lot, but agreed to let our hearts stay broken for awhile, because that is how light, grace and healing can get in, through the armor.
The next morning, I took Lily’s beloved ne’er-do-well husband Bodhi for a walk. I adore him, but he has tiny mental issues, such as aggression, and having eaten entire chickens, and 24 muffins once. Then, too sad to stay at home without Lily, we went out for a bite.
After eating sandwiches in the car, we headed home. I was disoriented, and so far behind on my daily life, after a month of Lily in decline, that Sam frequently consults A Place for Mom online. But a block from home, I got that Holy Spirit nudge, a tug on my sleeve, which urged me, as it often does, “Stop.” It’s given up on nuance.
They say that when all else fails, follow instructions. The nudge on my heart said, “Go to your friend’s kid’s school.” So I said, “Okay,” the fourth great prayer.
My closest friend’s child, who has been through the ringer, the On Beyond Zebra ringer, starts kindergarten soon, but the friend has been on Total Fucking Overwhelm (TFO). She has not entirely gotten him enrolled, and the school’s website had conflicting info on how to do this. And, of course, no one is in the office, because it is August, which was one of the two biggest mistakes God made–August, and snakes. So we drove to the school.
There was one car in the parking lot and a woman climbing into it. Then some janitors ran into view and called to her–had she locked their lunches in the office? She had–Oops, to quote Rick Perry. So she got out, to unlock the office. I asked if I could run along beside her, like a little dog, and ask a quick question. “Fire away!” she said. I told her about this boy, and asked all our main questions. She was so helpful. I thanked her, and asked if she worked in the office.
“Yes,” she said. “I’m the new principal.”
Of course she was the new principal, because God is such a show-off. Call this energy the Divine It, or Ed. Whatever works.
“Wow,” I said, bowing my head.
“Look,” she continued, “the easiest thing is probably for me to just give your friend my cell phone number.”
I said, “Okay,” on the verge of laughter and tears. “Thank you.”
Bodhi and I went home and called our friend. “You better sit down,” I told the mom. “I think we got some kind of Inbreaking.”
I told the mom my story, about how we’d somehow ended up at the Grace ATM, and how holy spirit had saved the day.
“Yeah,” she agreed. “Or Lily.”
I gave her the new principal’s cell phone number. Then Bodhi and I went to read the new People, and took a nice morning nap, feeling a little bit better, which is a miracle.
~Anne Lamott, Facebook post 8/9/2014