Oh hey, I guess I’ll blog again. It’s been a year.
I’ve been reading a lot of books lately. I work at a book store, so that means I am always coming home with new books to read. I’ve decided to focus on the books I already own and actually read them. I’m not really going to provide a huge in-depth summary, but rather a commentary/reflection while I read. So, here’s a blog/book “review”/how this book applies to my life currently.
If you’ve read Lamott/have any book suggestions/have thoughts about what I wrote, please feel free to leave a comment!
Anne Lamott’s Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith
I’ve heard wonderful things about Lamott (I feel a little late to this party, but whatever), so I decided to give her a try. I often refer to Goodreads to know the best book I should start with for a new author, and this one was highly suggested. (Check out my Goodreads account here if you’d like to know what I’m reading/friend me/whatever!)
What it is: a memoir/reflection of Anne’s life. Snippets of childhood, adulthood, motherhood. Struggles with addiction, grief from loss of friends and family, moments of clarity about God.
Lamott often turns to prayer in times of need, stress, fear, but also for comfort and in praise. Two significant prayers for her are “Help me, help me, help me,” and “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Feeling inspired, I decided to consider what my current “prayer” would be right now. While working at Mercy, Pastor Maggie would often incorporate breath prayer into our daily meditations. I found it relaxing to focus on a certain phrase while inhaling, and then while exhaling, a different but related phrase.
Lately, I’ve been breathing in “I accept” and exhaling “Let go.”
I went to yoga a few weeks ago, and it was specifically a session for grief. I learned about the “ocean breath” and the guttural sound your throat can make while using this practice. In fancy yoga terms, it is called ujjayi. Click here to try it yourself, if you like.
I’ve lost a lot of things close to me the past year, which honestly makes it feel like I have lost bits of who I am. With the flood, the loss of my Granddaddy and my cat, and even coming back from my year of service, I have been mourning who and what I have lost.
With my own simplified Serenity prayer, I’ve found myself able to focus on the moment and how I feel. When my thoughts get overwhelming, when regret and fear and guilt kick in, I have been using this practice to calm and relax and focus on the moment. I can’t change what has happened, but I can certainly pray for God to help me accept this current state of my life and to help grow and move on. Not to rush through grief, but to recognize and experience it.
A common theme that comes up in Anne’s book is that you can’t fix someone’s problems or grief. You have to let someone sit with it because if you don’t, you are doing more harm than good. I am fortunate to live with my sister and brother-in-law, and that they have been with me through the grief. While I know they would love to do anything and everything to fix it, they can’t. But, they have been with me through it all, hearing me out, and reflecting with me in my pain and sadness.
So if I had to give a rating for this book, I’d give it a 5/5. Definitely worth a read, and I read it at a perfect point in my life.
“Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.”
“All those years I fell for the great palace lie that grief should be gotten over as quickly as possible and as privately. But what I’ve discovered since is that the lifelong fear of grief keeps us in a barren, isolated place and that only grieving can heal grief; the passage of time will lessen the acuteness, but time alone, without the direct experience of grief, will not heal it… I’m pretty sure that it is only by experiencing that ocean of sadness in a naked and immediate way that we come to be healed – which is to say, that we come to experience life with a real sense of presence and spaciousness and peace.”
“God isn’t there to take away our suffering or our pain but to fill it with his or her presence.”