"Traveling Mercies" by Anne Lamott

I just got done reading Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott…finally. I picked this book up about three years ago but life happened and I never finished it. I finally took the time to sit down and read it (it didn’t hurt that my wife and I cut back our cable significantly…no more mindless reality TV for me!)

This is a wonderful book for those that don’t have any faith, for those whose faith is not living, and for those who like a good read with humor, tragedy, and love. Without going on a long rant about how awesome this book was I thought I would just give you some quotes that I thought were poignant. So here goes…

On grief:

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. (page 68)

On forgiveness:

I tried to will myself into forgiving various peple who had harmed me directly or indirectly over the years–four former Republican presidents, three relatives, two old boyfriends, and one teacher in a pear tree–it was “The Twelve Days of Christmas” meets Taxi Driver. But in the end I could only pretend that I had. I decided I was starting off with my sights aimed too high. As C.S. Lewis says in Mere Christianity, “If we really want to learn how to forgive, perhaps we had better start with something easier than the Gestapo.” (page 128)

There were admonitions about the self-destructiveness of not forgiving people, and reminders that this is usually doesn’t hurt other people so much as it hurts you. In fact, not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die. (page 134)

On family:

…I understand all of a sudden that my family is like this old sweater–it keeps unraveling, but then someone figures out how to sew it up one more time; it has lumps and then it unravels again, but you can still wear it; and it still keeps away the chill. (page 219)

On baptism:

It’s about full immersion, about falling into something elemental and wet. Most of what we do in worldly life is geared toward our staying dry, looking good, not going under. But in baptism, in lakes and rain and tanks and fonts, you agree to do something that’s a little sloppy because at the same time it’s also holy, and absurd. It’s about surrender, giving in to all those things we can’t control; it’s a willingness to let go of balance and decorum and get drenched. (page 231)




One thought on “"Traveling Mercies" by Anne Lamott

  1. Loved your review! I first “met” Anne Lamott on a radio show interview, West Coast Live, on OPR, (sorry they are no longer broadcasting, in this area anyway. We have most of her selections in our church library. Check out, “Bird by Bird; some instuctions on writing and life”. Oh I just remembered, we also have a video recording by that name which gives a portrait of the author. As you know, Lamott’s sequels to “Traveling Mercies” are “Plan B:further thoughts on faith” and “Grace (eventually)”. I’d love to have you do further reviews of upcoming selections for our Faith Notes! Wouldn’t it be great to invite Anne in our midst!
    God in your Mercy, hear our prayers, Brigitte

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