"It's funny: I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox, full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools — friendships, prayer, conscience, and honesty — and said, Do the best you can with these. They will have to do. And mostly, against all odds, they're enough," writes Anne Lamott, author of Operating Instructions, Bird by Bird, and five novels. In this candid, always surprising, and totally imaginative volume, this accomplished author conveys both the vigor and the rigors of her unusual journey of faith as a Christian convert. After years of alcohol and drug abuse, Lamott found a safe haven in a working-class Presbyterian Church in Marin, California. "When I was at the end of my rope, the people of St. Andrew's tied a knot for me and helped me hold on."

Many of these beautifully crafted essays originally appeared in Salon, an online magazine. Whether writing about her dreadlocks, her battle with bulimia, her practice of cronehood, or her insistence that her young son attend church, Lamott reveals an uncanny respect for the mysteries of life and for the unexpected wonders abounding in everyday events. As a Christian, she writes creatively about the rusty bent old tools of the faith such as forgiveness, silence, gratitude, grace, and loving compassion.

This spiffy spiritual memoir is filled with heartfelt stories and memorable one-liners ("Courage is fear that has said its prayers."). At one point, Lamott notes that "even when we're most sure that love can't conquer all, it seems to anyway." Traveling Mercies makes a good case for a funky Christian faith that is rooted in community and vibrant in the face of disappointment, self-destructive demons, and death.