Beginnings with Anne Lamott

Welcome to my first blogpost. I have several people to thank for encouraging and helping me find the courage to step out of my comfort zone. First off, to my beloved book club of 20 years, I say thank you for the big push or was that a shove you gave me on May 3rd. Secondly, but equally as important, thank you to my family. My Mother’s Day gift of a new iPad (cause Mama is going to start writing) is particularly appreciated. I could have never begun this adventure without Ellie and Patrick teaching me WordPress and buying my domain name. I’m forever grateful, and I hope to make all of you proud.

Earlier this month, I read Anne Lamott’s book Hallelujah Anyway- Rediscovering Mercy. Where would we be without her biting humor and truth-telling? Lamott discusses mercy in the context of our families, our friendships, and the world at large. AND in the context of ourselves. She writes, “Mercy, grace, forgiveness, and compassion are synonyms, and the approaches we might consider taking when facing a great big mess, especially the great big mess of ourselves- our arrogance, greed, poverty, disease, prejudice.” In these 62 years, I have discovered that loving myself has been the hardest task of life. Self-loathing is exhausting, and we finally have to lay aside that weighty burden, crawl to the throne room of heaven, and let divine love heal us. If God can embrace our messy selves, we can too. It’s about being our own best friend. We can speak the same encouraging, compassionate words to ourselves that we speak to others.

As for friendship, Lamott tells us that, “In rare friendships, we know soul reaches out to soul, like deep calling to deep. The Psalmist wrote: ‘Deep calls to deep, in the roar of your waterfalls.’ He was referring to floods of trouble and sorrow, but we know there is opposite and equal reality. What about our deepest, nethermost selves, beneath the part of us that can be sedated, stupid, reactive, observed, that cries out to that truer place in others?” Soul to soul, deep to deep relationships start and end with a willingness to be vulnerable. Ouch! Scary!

I hear Brene Brown’s TED-talking voice in my head. I’ve spent the last 12-18 months really working at being vulnerable, letting down my perpetual guard, peaking out from under my mask of shame and fear. Working is a good verb here because it’s hard and scary. It takes a lot of effort and energy. And trust. Brown says shame can’t survive when we share our story, our struggles, our fears.

I’ve also noticed shame can’t survive when we share our dreams and desires of our hearts. It’s sharing our most true selves- our deep to another’s deep. When soul connects to another soul, the rewards are bountiful. It’s those moments when we tap into the divine connection, when we share that sacred love, when we recognize that “we all struggle [and are all] as vulnerable as a colony of rabbits.”

Time is needed to foster a relationship where two people can begin to expose their souls to one another. Isn’t that the scarce commodity in this post-modern world? Or is it our excuse so that we don’t have to go deep? Lamott calls us “water skeeters on the surface of the pond, dropping down for a quick bite of insect or email.” This will be the visual in my head next time I pop out a quick text when I really should be calling. I’ll embrace my own foibles as I consciously make the effort of embrace everyone else’s. In parting, let’s remember that “mercy and grace belong together, like cream and sugar.” Be sure and offer it.