Bacon on the Bookshelf

Savory picks for the free range reader

Almost Everything

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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.

*      *      *

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…

…Seeing “Lysistrata Jones” on the Emory campus.  The musical will live on, despite its very short Broadway run, as long as college kids are feeling all the feels, and as long as people wonder how the Ancient Greeks speak to us today.

…Reading Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken at the Intermezzo Cafe in Terminal B of the Atlanta airport.

…Receiving photos from one of my favorite people on the planet, Jack Barnwell.

*      *      *

Today’s post first ran in the March 2019 issue of NFocus magazine.

Both heron photos copyright reserved Jack Barnwell.

 

14 Comments

  1. Jennifer, this is lovely. I’m reading Lamott’s Bird By Bird right now. Your description of her is spot-on— she is like a favorite aunt telling you all the real stuff. Can’t wait to read this one.

  2. McFABULOUS Post

  3. Perfect words about one of my favorite authors. Can’t wait to read it!

  4. A great Sunday morning meditation! ❤️

  5. This is a very beautiful post, Jennifer!

  6. I didn’t know she had a new book out! I love your first reflection most of all about how in her writing she recognizes that we get things wrong, all of the time… but we learn, we grow and we are surprised. Thank you for such lovely Sunday thoughts! xo

    • Dearest “Miss Anne” – I am so happy to hear from you! I am so tired of making mistakes. Aren’t you supposed to get everything right by the time you reach age 50? I’m really just so tired of it. But I keep making them. And – also – I keep learning. And my heart keeps stretching. So maybe everything will work out okay in the end. Thinking of you, sending love – xoxo

  7. I love Lamott’s irreverent wit and straight shooting prose. She has so many hidden gems tucked in her pages. She also doesn’t sugarcoat the fact that life is a struggle and a challenge, even for those who walk in faith.
    I just finished “Help Thanks Wow” and am diving into “Almost Everything” next. A balm for challenging days.
    Thank you.

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