"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves." --Rainer Maria Rilke Photo (Photo ©julenisse/Fotolia)

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Holy Thursday With Anne Lamott

This year I ditched liturgy and tradition for Anne Lamott. No foot washing. No stripping of the altar. No Stations of the Cross. Like a friend said, "There will be other Maundy Thursdays..."

Instead, I went to see Annie... to hear her read from her latest, Grace (Eventually), to answer questions ("How's Sam?"), and to bask in her honest, self-deprecating, spirituality.

Few people have the self-awareness of Anne Lamott. Most who do have developed it through the painful, gut-wrenching, process of recovery... of getting lost and finding a way back. Few are able to share their shortcomings, jealousies and sins with another human being even in the sanctity of a confessional or confidentiality of a Fifth Step.

Anne Lamott puts it all out there. She confesses ugly thoughts, and words that have escaped and can't be taken back. She confides that she has betrayed a friend and slapped her teenage son. She was drunk. She got sober. She struggles with her body image and long ago made peace with her hair through dreadlocks--a seemingly unusual choice for a white chick. She says she is a bad Christian, but I disagree. She is a human one. Her truths and her honesty are sacred. She is a celebration of life, its challenges, failures and victories.

When I first read Traveling Mercies, I felt like I had found a soul mate. She gets it... She gets ME! I'd love to sit down and have a cup of coffee with her, I remember thinking. We would have so much to talk about. We would become best friends. (Nevermind that I have the two best in the world already!) She would read my writing and counsel me on how to make it better, shitty first drafts and all. She was speaking to me and me alone!

Yet, I learned the other night that it is not just me and me alone. I am not terminally unique, after all. There were hundreds of us--mostly, but not all, women--gathered in the Community Christian Church sanctuary on Maundy Thursday. Spending that evening in her presence--along with legions of a others who presumably feel the same way about her--was a holy experience. It was joyful, not dolorous. No organ playing "Were you there when they crucified my Lord?" No candlelight. And as far as I know everyone kept their shoes on.

There was Annie looking comfortable in baggie blue jeans (her body looked just great to me!), a white T-shirt and a peach cardigan that matched some cloth in her dreads. She said she had a lingering Northern California cold, that her voice didn't usually sound like this. No matter the nasaly tone, Anne Lamott has a voice that speaks to me. Her work and that night are a holy part of my journey... the road that leads to Easter. And that is sacred enough for me.

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