“Love is evolutionary, survival of the species. Not-love is killing us,” writes Anne Lamott, in one of the more serious moments of her new book. In a time of great divisions between people, come reminders from one our most popular spiritual writers about the fundamentals of love.

In classic Anne Lamott style, this comes in sentences bursting with inspiration flashes, such as: “Eighty percent of everything that is true and beautiful can be experienced on any ten-minute walk.” And, “Even in the darkest and most devastating times, love is nearby if you know what to look for.” Those two come from the opening paragraph of this powerful little book.

When Lamott, who is profiled in our Living Spiritual Teachers Project, turns to actually defining love, she seems to capture it very well: “Love is caring, affection, and friendliness, of course, compassion and a generous heart. It is also some kind of energy or vibration, because everything is.”

There’s an introduction, a conclusion, and ten chapters, but the chapter titles don’t communicate what the book is about. They include, for instance, “Hinges,” “Cowboy,” and “Swag.” Lamott is never a “teller”; instead, she demonstrates, or “points to,” love. Her winsome storytelling gently reveals what love is and how it works.

There are the usual Lamottian moments of hilarity and eccentricity. We enjoyed this one, for instance: “Love acts like Gandhi and our pets and Jesus and Mr. Bean and Mr. Rogers and Bette Midler.”

Lamott talks about having taught love to kids in Sunday school for more than thirty years. She quotes the Jesuit paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin just as easily as she relates something she bought at Home Depot to sourcing love in her life. She writes about love: “It is this stuff, which any kid and most poets will tell you we experience in our hearts.”

“Love is why we are here at all,” she explains, and this book is full of reminders of how to do it and the need to return to the basics when there is so much else that wants to pull us away from who we are.

Try a Spiritual Practice on Love

Go Deeper:
Choosing to Love: This 12-session e-course with video teachings by Br. David Steindl-Rast explores teachings about love and the deep experience of belonging.