Tag Archives: quotes

Nuggets from Anne Lamott

FFW

I got to hear Anne Lamott twice at the Festival of Faith and Writing. She was in classic Lamottian form, weaving many of her classic lines with some off-the-cuff stuff. Here are a few nuggets from my notes:

Quoting Geneen Roth: how you do one thing is how you do everything.

[On life's mysteries and needing an explanation] “Figure it out” is not a good life slogan.

Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor. It keeps you from having a sweet dumb regular old life.

[On our culture's discomfort with pain] When we the abyss opens up at your feet, you go to IKEA and buy a nice area rug.

If you’re multitasking, your life will be diminished.

Laughter is carbonated holiness. [a classic]

[On the discipline of writing every day] I am like Dr. Spock with myself: firm and friendly.
and
Don’t tell yourself that you’ll start writing when X or Y happens. If you cannot find me an hour, not even Jesus can help you.

We’re not hungry for what we’re not getting.
We’re hungry for what we’re not giving.

[On embracing the imperfections of others] I want to sit with the screwed up and the fascinated and the ones who wonder.

You don’t need an office, you need the discipline.

[On making excuses to take a break from writing and/or doing those things that are good for you] “Anyone would understand if…” is the voice of the devil.

The hour before the world gets to you is a precious and sacred hour. Evening is OK, but you’re sleepy and you have information toxicity.

Mary and Mary Magdalene didn’t know what the hell was going on at the cross, but they didn’t leave.

Barry Lopez: all we have are compassion and stories.

Five rules of adulthood in America, according to Father Tom (reported in Operating Instructions)
1. There’s nothing wrong with you.
2. If there’s something wrong with you, fix it.
3. If you can’t fix it, pretend you have.
4. If you can’t pretend, don’t show up.
5. If you insist on showing up, you’d better at least act ashamed.

One way to change a community is to subversively sneak books into their hands.

People like to say, ‘You can’t have faith and fear at the same time,’ and I don’t want to sit with them at lunch.

Cookies Help Save Our Lives

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This week’s Blue Room email reflection (subscribe here, though we’ll be going back to monthly-ish once Lent ends) was about the movie Stranger Than Fiction, one of my favorites.

A friend and subscriber sent a message back that it’s also one of her favorites; in fact she taught a Sunday School class on it some time ago. The closing voice-over became the closing “prayer” for the class, and she was kind to send it along as a reminder. Here it is.

~

Sometimes, when we lose ourselves in fear and despair,
in routine and constancy,
in hopelessness and tragedy,
we can thank God for Bavarian sugar cookies.

And fortunately, when there aren’t any cookies,
we can still find reassurance
in a familiar hand on our skin,
or a kind and loving gesture,
or a subtle encouragement,
or a loving embrace,
or an offer of comfort.

Not to mention
hospital gurneys,
and nose plugs,
and uneaten Danish,
and soft-spoken secrets,
and Fender Stratocasters,
and maybe the occasional piece of fiction.

And we must remember that all these things,
the nuances,
the anomalies,
the subtleties,
which we assume only accessorize our days
are, in fact, here for a much larger and nobler cause:
They are here to save our lives.

I know the idea seems strange.

But I also know that it just so happens to be true.

~

from Stranger Than Fiction, screenplay by Zach Helm

The City That Disappeared

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“Many years ago, on this very spot, there was a beautiful city of fine houses and inviting spaces, and no one who lived here was ever in a hurry.  The streets were full of wonderful things to see and the people would often stop to look at them.”

“Didn’t they have any place to go?” asked Milo.

“To be sure,” continued Alec; “but, as you know, the most important reason for going from one place to another is to see what’s in between, and they took great pleasure in doing just that.  Then one day someone discovered that if you walked as fast as possible and looked at nothing but your shoes you would arrive at your destination much more quickly.  Soon everyone was doing it.  They all rushed down the avenues and hurried along the boulevards seeing nothing of the wonders and beauties of their city as they went.

“No one paid any attention to how things looked, and as they moved faster and faster everything grew uglier and dirtier, and as everything grew uglier and dirtier they moved faster and faster; and at last a very strange thing began to happen.  Because nobody cared, the city slowly began to disappear.  Day by day the buildings grew fainter and fainter, and the streets faded away, until at last it was entirely invisible.  There was nothing to see at all.

“They went right on living here just as they’d always done, in the houses they could no longer see and on the streets which had vanished, because nobody had noticed a thing.  And that’s the way they have lived to this very day.”

“Hasn’t anyone told them?” asked Milo.

“It doesn’t do any good,” Alec replied, “for they can never see what they’re in too much of a hurry to look for.”

The Phantom Tollbooth, pp. 117-18

~

photo credit: Éole via photopin cc

What’s Done Is Done

What Has Been Done Has Been Done

What Has Been Done Has Been Done

I use this quote in Sabbath in the Suburbs, and I have it posted on the bulletin board in my study. I try to let go of the unfinished work of my life when it is time to rest, or play, or sleep, or simply go to the next thing. Sometimes I feebly succeed.

I’m in a busy season of travel, which also sadly coincides with a couple of kid events: concerts and the like. I often feel some sadness and guilt when I leave town—Robert is a full and capable partner, but his work schedule is not as flexible as mine—and this time those feelings have been compounded by the missed concert.

I am thankful beyond measure for the privilege of being with congregations and other leaders, whether as a preacher, conference keynoter, or retreat leader. It is my joy and my vocation. But I do miss my family when I’m away.

I deal with these feelings (or not) with a pre-travel ritual that I call “guilt cleaning and overcompensation laundry.” I was in the midst of this flurry last week and said to Robert, “I always feel a little bad about leaving,” and he responded, “What’s done is done.”

I stopped for a moment, because I didn’t know what he meant. My initial interpretation of his statement was, “Well MaryAnn, it’s a little late to worry about that now. You’re committed to these events.”

I thought he was judging me, or expressing frustration. But actually, he was quoting the New Zealand Prayer Book to me: What you finish, you finish. Don’t feel bad about it; we’ll be fine; let it be.  

Huh. The dude actually listens to stuff I say!

Now if only I would listen…

~

Image: The Episcopal Church Facebook page