This quirky and appealing collection of 28 essays is Anne Lamott's third volume, after Traveling Mercies and Plan B, on her journey of faith as a contemporary Christian. Once again, she shares her idiosyncratic responses to the times in which we live. She sees God as "an equal opportunity employer" and believes it is possible "to experience the divine anywhere." So she stays on the lookout for the spiritual meaning of every experience.
Lamott probes the fear that leads to a junk food binge; she wonders where her hatred of President Bush and his policies is taking her; she worries about the way the back of her neck looks in certain harsh lights and comes up with the insight that "Joy is the best make-up"; she participates in an emergency read-in to stop the closing of a library in Salinas, California; she struggles with her personal demon of jealousy; she honors the twentieth anniversary of her sobriety; she agonizes with the rebelliousness of her 17-year old son; she defends a woman's right to make her own reproductive choices at a spiritual conference of progressives; and she decides to help a dying friend to a dignified death.
Lamott finds solace in the fact that all of us are, as she puts it, struggling to wake up, to be loved, and to not feel afraid all the time. Luckily she has a church to attend that offers her a moral boost: they like to clap and drive the devil away. She also has a priest friend who keeps her alert to the immenseness of God's grace as something to bank upon when personal or public storm clouds appear and things seem especially bleak. Here is an example of what she learns from him:
"When my priest friend Tom is at his most despondent over Bush and global warming, he goes around is neighborhood picking up trash and dog shit. It definitely helps on days when you can't see much hope for this sweet old planet. In the long haul, grace will win out over everything, over the misery, the stupidity, the dishonesty, but it would be so yoked, as [my son] Sam would say, if our species were around to witness that."
Lamott feels carried by grace and holds to the faith that help is always on the way "a hundred percent of the time." That kind of feistiness percolates through these essays and convinces us once again that this Christian's voice and message are worth attending to and taking seriously.