Is there anyone quite like Anne Lamott?
Her latest book, Dusk, Night, Dawn: On Revival and Courage includes her answers to the questions many of us have but may be afraid to speak out loud.
From the book jacket: “How can we recapture the confidence we once had as we stumble through the dark times that seem increasingly bleak? How can we cope as bad news piles up around us?”
And within these pages, Ms. Lamott gives us answers. Glimpses into the big and small. Rays of light and hope.
Here are just a few of the many gems I marked with sticky notes while I read:
“I told them my stories of mess and redemption, because stories can be our most reliable medicine. I told them that, yes, it was going to be really hard to turn the environment around, but that we can do hard and in fact we have done hard before — World War II, vaccines, antibiotics, antiretrovirals. We are up to this.”
“So to answer my earlier question of where on earth we begin to recover our faith in life, in the midst of so much bad news and dread, when our children’s futures are so uncertain: We start in the here and now. That’s why they call it the present. We start where our butts and feet and minds are.”
“We excel during tragedies, bringing our best selves to serve the suffering in a devastated world, nation, community, family. We keep each other company when children or pets are missing, when our last auntie or old dog dies, while waiting for prognoses. Our human response to each other’s hurt and loss is what gives me hope, along with science and modern medicine. We rise up to help the best we can, and we summon humor to amend ghastly behavior and dismal ongoing reality. Help and humor save us.”
“Friends save us, service to others save us. Books, nature, community, and music save us.”
“People like to say all sorts of stupid bumper-sticker things that aren’t true and that in fact can be shaming, such as that God never gives us more than we can handle. What a crock.”
“It is too much. You steadfastly love and serve everyone, see people through tribulation, savor the relief, and give thanks. Then boing — a new setback. It’s like tucking an octopus into bed at night: new arms keep popping out.”
“When people know you too well, they eventually see your damage, your weirdness, carelessness, and mean streak. They see how ordinary you are after all, and that whatever it was that distinguished you in the beginning is the least of who you actually are. This will turn out to be the greatest gift we can offer another person: letting them see, every so often, beneath all the trappings and pretense to the truth of us.
But can you love me now?”
“Love will have to do, along with bright and dim memories, some that still hurt, others that we savor like Life Savers tucked away in our cheeks.”