Saturday, November 01, 2008

Anne Lamott Is a Genius

The thing that most consistently can rob me of sleep, beyond the temporary pressures of work or the momentary turbulences of relationships, is the clear and present danger of aging, to be defeated only by death, to be defeated only by resurrection. The thought of aging will take me abruptly from being nearly asleep to wide awake. It's the non sequitur I most dread when my mind and body are supposedly at rest.

The Heidelberg Catechism's reminder that whether in life or in death I belong to Christ offers some comfort, but only some. Creedal assurances, I guess, don't fully address my existential angst. I'm too good a worrier for that. But sometimes I'll read something that is less creedal and more folksy, something that for whatever reason puts my soul temporarily at rest. Today that creedal surrogate is Anne Lamott, in her book Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith. She's got a few years on me, enough to anticipate some of the angst on my immediate horizon, but she's not so far out in front or so ethereal an author that I can't feel in my bones the comfort she takes in her own creaking. She doesn't replace creedal assurances for me, but she does bring them down to earth for a little while. The following did so for me today; maybe today or tomorrow or the next it'll do something similar for you:

Age has given me what I was looking for my entire life--it has given me me. It has provided time and experience and time-tested friends who have helped me step into the shape that was waiting for me. I fit into me now. . . .

Left to my own devices, would I trade this for firm thighs, fewer wrinkles, a better memory?

You bet I would. That is why it's such a blessing that I'm not left to my own devices. . . .

I know two things now that I didn't know at thirty. That when we get to heaven, we will discover that the appearance of our butts and our skin was 127th on the list of what mattered on this earth. And that I am not going to live forever. Knowing these things has set me free.

1 comment:

Michelle Van Loon said...

This is exactly why I'm a Lamott fan. Even when I don't agree with her (not at all the case with the passage you quoted), she puts words to the half-formed thoughts in my soul. And those words are both winsome and provocative - sometimes both in a single sentence.

Like you, I need someone to tell me the truth about what's happening as the horizon gets closer and closer.