Apr 122010
 

There is a woman named Anne Lamott, and she lives in California and writes down big beautiful stories and ideas that God gives her. She, together with Sister and husband and Jesus, convinced me that I could just go ahead and be myself already.

Before I met Anne Lamott, I thought I had to choose between God and myself. I’m not going to explain that right now, but the important thing is that her stories and ideas taught me that I didn’t have to make that choice. She taught me that those two things were the same choice, actually. When I read Anne Lamott, I feel like maybe I’m okay. I also feel like maybe she’s said it all, and I shouldn’t bother adding anything else. But then I remember that she would probably tell me otherwise, so I keep writing.

If my children don’t end up with enough money to go to college, it will be because I bought so many books by Anne Lamott. And I’ll be fine with that. I have given Traveling Mercies to one friend four different times. She didn’t have the heart to tell me until the fourth time, when she asked me if I was joking. I just want my friends to feel as free and kind and calm and understood as I do when I read her. I also like to buy her books repeatedly because each time I buy one, she gets a few bucks. So when I hand my money to the Borders cashier I imagine that I’m buying a coffee for one of her funny friends, or a flower to put in that beautiful hair that helped make her who she is. And I feel like I’m sending her a thank you card, without bothering her by actually sending her a thank you card.

Last week Krystal wrote on the Momastery fan page that Anne Lamott was going to be speaking and signing copies of her new book, Imperfect Birds, at a book store in Northern Virginia. I started sweating when I read that. But there was nothing I could do about it, because I don’t live there anymore. I was so relieved that there was nothing I could do about it. But then one of my best friends, Joanna, wrote on the wall that she would go. That she would Go Meet Anne Lamott For Me. And then I just shut the computer because I couldn’t take it anymore.

I don’t know how to tell you about Joanna. Maybe if Sister and I had another sister, in between us, it would be Joanna. She would be the artsy one who is always trying to make our lives more like art, more colorful and open for interpretation and outside the lines. And we would be like book ends for her.

So I wrote to Joanna and said don’t go, hoping that she would ignore that, and I spent the whole evening trying not to wonder if Joanna was listening to Anne Lamott for me. I ate a lot of popcorn.

The next morning, Joanna wrote me an email and told me that she was not going to tell me anything about what happened at the reading unless I called her. Joanna is always trying to turn me into a better friend by insisting I speak to her instead of just write to her. I find this annoying and unsettling and wise and brave. So I lied and told her I couldn’t call. Because of some phone problems. And she knew I was lying, but she gave in and wrote to me anyway. She wrote all of the beautiful things Anne Lamott said. And she told me that she had written a card to Anne Lamott. And that she had smiled and accepted the card with both hands and hugged the card to her chest and said, “Yay! I’ll take it home and read it tonight!” This is the card Joanna wrote to Anne Lamott. For me. For her friend.

When I saw these pictures, I sat at my computer and cried for a long time. Because I always thought that if Anne Lamott ever actually read my writing, my life would somehow be different. That it would be magical. But as I looked at the card Joanna made, and imagined her dragging her pregnant, tired self to that book store to make contact with a woman she’d never read, simply because I loved her, and she loved me, I realized suddenly that I didn’t need Anne Lamott to read my writing. Because she wasn’t the magical part of the moment at all. The magical part was Joanna. The magical part was that I have a friend who loves me so much that she wanted to thank the woman who helped me have the courage to be myself.

I don’t know how to get over that. I’m just so full about that.

Life’s magic is never on its way. It’s always already arrived. Joy is catching a glimpse of something extra-ordinary that we were lulled into thinking was ordinary for awhile. Like when we remember that each sun beam is actually a rainbow, because one hit the window at just the right angle. So we stop to look closer, and our eyes widen.













Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery on-line community on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest


Apr 082010
 

There we are, the Doyle Sisters, the night before Amanda left for Rwanda to help some other sisters.

Please head over here and sign up on Sister’s blog as a follower. Maybe you could even leave her a little note. Just let her know you’re thinking of her. She’s brave, but brave people get lonely, too.
Thanks, Monkees.
Love, G




Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery on-line community on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest


Apr 072010
 




The night before Sister left for Rwanda, she gave me a letter, along with a very special gift. I’m offering them to you today because Bubba always tells us: “To whom much is given, much is expected.” Today you’ll get to read her letter and tomorrow I’ll send you to her blog, where you can become her partner on the great adventure that she and God, and all of us, are on together.

My hope is that you will be as encouraged and inspired by her as I am, everyday.

Here goes.

*****************

March 24, 2010


We can do hard things.

Slow and Steady.

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:12

Sister,

I think I first gave it to you in 1999. I was in my second year at UVA, you were in your fifth year at JMU. I was worried about you, about your eating and drinking and health. But I knew that if you believed in you- believed that you were worth fighting for – you could be well. That you were strong. So strong. That you would need to be strong to struggle toward health.

I sent you a long letter and these little black boots with fire red laces. The boots, little kids’ hiking/combat boot type things, had the label “Rebel” on them and those bold, defiant laces. I loved them. And I loved the word Rebel to describe what we needed to do. To defy the powerful forces that made you feel so desperate to match the image of acceptable thinness, the same that kept me the year before, and a few years beyond, in the crazy-making cycle of bulimia. To defy the temptation to believe that you were what alcohol had made you. They were an invitation- those little Rebels – to put on our badass boots and courageously hump through our battlefield toward the peaceful clearing where we belonged. By one step. Then another.

That was the first time those laces and we met.

In 2001, you gave a boot back to me. The other had long since disappeared in the muddy trenches, but you gave one back to me in 2001 when I left for law school. You told me it would be hard, but we could do hard things. It was hard. I hated it actually. But we did it.

Close to midnight in January 2003, after I got the call that it was all happening, I carefully unlaced the sacred red string and packed it – together with every desperate prayer and joy in my heart- and drove from Charlottesville to Fairfax to deliver it to you as you delivered Chase. It was in the room that changed the world- when you were ushered into motherhood and family and the greatest challenge of your life.

You gave the lace back in 2006 as I was being ushered out of what I believed was my most important role. As I recovered- in your basement and in your care – from the divorce, the only thing I could do was take the hump – one step at a time – with faith that a clearing was ahead, even when I could not see a sign of peace anywhere in the distance. The image of those boots – the belief that what saves a person is to take one step, and then another- was the only way I managed to stumble, solemn and grateful and defiant, onto the clearing where I could breathe easy again.

Each one step. And each another. These are all life is. Every day a million courageous or grueling one steps; each crisis the will to step instead of crumble, each joy a grateful skip. This is what is required of life.

But the joy of life- the privilege of life – is these boots, these laces. It is the comfort and peace in knowing that each step we take is accounted for by each other. Knowing that the other is walking each step with you – would take that hike for you if she could – and will not let you fall. Will never let you fall except into her arms. These laces signify the privilege of knowing we walk with each other through everything, and that is because we are two united and with God three – we can do hard things.

These next many months will be no different, except in proximity. You will be with me through every step I take, every person I meet. I will be with you through every writing session and bath time, through your recovery from Lyme and your small town adventures. We will miss nothing. But that might be difficult to remember at times. So this lace, this lace will help us remember. I will wear mine everyday to remind me how blessed I am to walk this world together.


We can do hard things.

Slow and Steady.

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:12

-Sister


**********************


These are the bracelets Sister had made out of the Red Rebel Shoelaces, which we will wear each day that she’s gone.

Cords of three strands.





Good story, huh?





Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery on-line community on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest