Just got finished with Anne Lamott’s Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers. It isn’t that long and you could finish it in one afternoon if that was your goal.
Allow me to suggest a slower pace and a different goal, though. However, I have to admit laying in a hammock and finishing a good book is a pretty respectable ambition.
And, yes. I know for many of you Anne will be too mystical. She’ll be too Democratic. Too Californian. Too raw. Too dreadlocked. Too different theologically. Don’t get me wrong here. I don’t agree with everything. But she’ll make you think. She’s contributing to a conversation we all can benefit from having. She’s a rabble-rouser. She’s my kinda person. I’m glad she’s in our Tribe.
But anyway, grab your cup of coffee and think, and feel free to contribute to the conversation we all can benefit from having:
Prayer is taking a chance that against all odds and past history, we are loved and chosen, and do not have to get it together before we show up. The opposite may be true: We may not be able to get it together until after we show up in such miserable shape.
Sometimes the first time we pray, we cry out in the deepest desperation, ‘God help me.’ This is a great prayer, as we are then at our absolutely most degraded and isolated, which means we are nice and juicy with the consequences of our best thinking and are thus possibly teachable.
There’s freedom in hitting bottom, in seeing that you won’t be able to save or rescue your daughter, her spouse, his parents, or your career, relief in admitting you’ve reached the place of great unknowing. This is where restoration can begin, because when you’re still in the state of trying to fix the unfixable, everything bad is engaged: the chatter of your mind, the tension of your physiology, all the trunks and wheel-ons you carry from the past. It’s exhausting, crazy-making.
If I were going to begin practicing the presence of God for the first time today, it would help to begin by admitting the three most terrible truths of our existence: that we are so ruined, and so loved, and in charge of so little.
The movement of grace toward gratitude brings us from the package of self-obsessed madness to a spiritual awakening. Gratitude is peace.
The Amen is only as good as the attitude. If you are trying to finish up quickly so you can check your cell phone messages, you are missing the chance to spend quiet moments with the giver of life and the eternal, which means you may reap continued feelings of life racing along without you.
Have at it, patrons.