Traveling Mercies (Some Thoughts on Faith)
by Ann Lamott made me laugh, wonder, nod in agreement, cringe and weep.
Why I make Sam Go to Church
It's funny: I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox, full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools-friendship, prayer, conscience, honesty-and said, Do the best you can with these, they will have to do. And mostly, against all odds, they're enough.
Mary Williams, baggies of dimes and beam of love.
Now, a number of the older black women live pretty close to the bone financially on small Social Security checks. But routinely they sidled up to me and stuffed bills in my pocket-tens and twenties. It was always done so stealthily that you might have thought they were slipping me bindles of cocaine. One of the most consistent donors was a very old woman named Mary Williams, who is in her mid-eighties now, so beautiful with her crushed hats and hallelujahs; she always brought me plastic Baggies full of dimes, noosed with little wire twists.
I was usually filled with a sense of something like shame until I remembered that wonderful line of Blake's-that we are here to learn to endure the beams of love-and I would take a long deep breath and force these words out of my strangulated throat:"Thank you."
...I was at my most incredibly unyoung. I was tired, squinty, jet-lagged, stressed. Of course, I told myself, there is beauty in being older, being a mother, there is beauty in the wise steady gaze...
Later that same day, I went to the mirror and looked for a long time, trying to see the timeless glory of crow's-feet, the resplendence of having survived. Instead I see a woman in her early forties who grew up playing all day in the sun. Who knew? Then I saw a woman who had had just a few thousand too many social drinks, and then there was a woman who became a single mother. And the long and short of it is that I looked like a fabulous woman who was on sale at the consignment store.
I am trying to accept that I am actually m-m-m-m-m-middle aged. And even though I am a feminist and even though I am religious, I secretly believe, in some mean little rat part of my brain, that I am my skin, my hair, and worst of all, those triangles of fat that pooch at the top of my thighs.
In other words, that I am my packaging. Even though both feminism and Christianity have taught me that I am my spirit, my heart, all that I have survived over the years and all that I have given, still a funny thing happened after I started liking this guy: I looked in the mirror, and sighed and thought to myself, I will cut out my eyes.
And then she says this....
From time to time I tugged on the skin of my upper eyelid, which I can now pull out about two inches, like on of those roll-up shades. I ate a four-ounce KitKat bar in attempt to console myself, and my butt instantly began to feel like a beanbag chair. My underpants grew tight and deeply uncomfortable. I started to wonder if I'd accidentally put on a pair of Sam's.
Oh, I wish you were here...I would love to be reading this out loud to you all :o)
Really. I would.
Cause we would laugh and nod and I would get choked up and pass the book to you, to read to me.
And I would have to add my opinions too.
Like this one;
I actually believe that discernment and wisdom and patience and hard won tools.
Tools that grow from a life of prayer, with the asking and the Holy Spirit.
And you would want to say, 'Shut up and read'...
And if you were my sister Cindy, you would get tired of my reading out loud...
and you would hide the book.
And everyone would think it was terrible funny.
Cause I don't like to be teased.
And how could you NOT want to listen to me read out loud???
Thank you, Anne Lamott for being so open and funny and real.
I'm grateful you survived to tell your tale.
I'm glad you are a writer.
Are you reading something worth reading out loud this week?
Encourage one another,