If you’re a fan of Anne Lamott, you know exactly why to pick up her latest book, Almost Everything: Notes on Hope. Lamott is predictable in the best kind of way, like an Egg McMuffin – warm and savory, delicious and filling (especially if joined by a crunchy hash brown). I finished Almost Everything while enjoying the perfect McDonald’s breakfast and found myself just this side of heaven.
If you’ve not read Lamott, here are three reasons you might want to try her latest.
First – she offers comfort to the struggling soul. Which, I think, is most of us. Lamott knows that we get stuff wrong, all the time. Important stuff. We hurt the people closest to us – and plenty of other people, too. We are selfish and limited, we don’t always have the best intentions, we lack empathy and imagination when it matters most. And yet also: we learn, we grow. And others do too. We surprise each other.
We forgive and are forgiven. We seek and are found. God’s love moves in us and through us and those around us in the most unexpected ways. Which offers – you know – hope. Lamott is a Christian but she doesn’t think you have to be to understand what she’s talking about.
Reason Number 2: Reading Lamott feels like you’re gossiping with your favorite aunt, the straight-talker. She tells you about her son and his drug problem. She tells you about the time she called her uncle a “Scumbutt” over the phone and hung up on him. Reconciliation took a long time. She doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to finding peace of mind…
“There is almost nothing outside you that will help in any kind of lasting way, unless you are waiting for an organ donor. You can’t buy, achieve, or date serenity. Peace of mind is an inside job, unrelated to fame, fortune, or whether your partner loves you. Horribly, what this means is that it is also an inside job for the few people you love most desperately in the world.”
Is there any harder yet truer truth?
Reason Number 3: In the midst of all this hard-earned wisdom, Lamott will make you laugh. “[D]eath is not the enemy; snakes are,” she writes. “And cheese: it is addictive and irresistible. I have had three kinds so far today.”
“There’s no cure for being human,” says my friend Caroline. “When all is said and done, we’re all just walking each other home,” says Ram Dass. Lamott offers balm – and helps light the way. Which is almost everything.
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Thank you, Todd Jones, for your decades of loving ministry at First Presbyterian Church, Nashville. I’ve been thinking a lot about what you shared with us in your final letter, in the words of St. Augustine… “Gratitude is the mature emotion.”
Gratitude can sometimes feel like an eddy in the current of – you know – other feelings. Gratitude can feel elusive – the hare – and I am the hunter (my prey, I pray). But gratitude can also whisper tenderly in your ear…
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Today’s post first ran in the March 2019 issue of NFocus magazine.
Both heron photos copyright reserved Jack Barnwell.