quote du jour ~beck

Think about whatever you have planned for the next few hours. Would you do this thing if you were currently helping a loved one cross the threshold of death? Will this thing matter to you at all when you’re the one crossing that threshold? If not, stop. Do something that matters in the face of mortality. Living this way makes death a benevolent guide that shows you how to create the best possible life you can have. And doing that brings peace, the peace that matters so much that nothing else can ever compare.
~Martha Beck

post du jour ~lamott

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. Continue reading

quote du jour ~lamott – and because all lives…

And because all lives are hard and difficult to understand, you acknowledge the slipperiness of those who died—they got out. You hold onto them because it can be so appalling here, until you can’t hold on anymore, because you’re not holding on to anything after a while. Either they had a Get out of Jail Free card or they became part of the bigger natural order of things. You can’t tether them to earth anymore, because the thread has grown too fine. All you can do is say, “I get it: You are somewhere else now. But little flecks of you remain, like mica in rock, which glint and say: It was all true.”

~Anne Lamott, Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair

quote du jour ~holtby

This alone is to be feared—the closed mind, the sleeping imagination, the death of the spirit. The death of the body, I think, is a little thing.

~Winifred Holtby

excerpt du jour ~anne lamott

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

a legacy of heart

Tonight I learned that a friend of mine passed away last week. We did theatre together a million years ago and probably hadn’t seen each other in a couple of decades, but I had reconnected with him, as I had with many of my old theatre friends, through Facebook. I enjoyed reading his posts, including one from a few weeks ago, the clip of Dixie Carter as Julia Sugarbaker on Designing Women delivering “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” speech.

Bob had an amazing voice and a wicked sense of humor, but what comes to me as I think back is his kindness. Continue reading