It’s extremely rare that I read the same book twice – I instead tend to focus my efforts on my constantly-growing shelf of unread books, which is the curse (or blessing) of being a person with a book-buying addiction.  But when my book club decided on Traveling Mercies as our latest pick, I felt like I was due for a little time with ol’ Annie Lamott – it had been 3 or 4 years since I’d picked up anything of hers.  And good, good Lord, this is good, good stuff.  Like, speaks-to-my-soul kind of stuff.  Like, makes-me-laugh-out-loud-then-want-to-cry kind of stuff.  Like, ‘Amen, Sister!’ kind of stuff.  She talks about her faith in a way that allows you to understand that it’s entirely possible to be deeply connected to God, but still deeply flawed, whether with anger, bitterness, self-centeredness, or vanity.  Being a Christian and being a person with a closet full of skeletons are not mutually exclusive.  And Anne’s closet certainly has skeletons.  But her life is incredibly rich with moments of finding and being found by God.  He hunts her down in the midst of her drug and alcohol addiction; she accepts His embrace through the death of her best friend; she even takes a moment to talk with God in the midst of the most frustrating circumstances, like her car breaking down while she’s on her way to visit an old friend that’s dying of cancer:

“‘It would be hard to capture how I felt at that moment.  It was a nightmare: Bad Mind kicked in.  Bad Mind can’t wait for this kind of opportunity:  ‘I told you so,’ Bad Mind says.  It whispers to me that I am doomed because I am such a loser…  ‘Will you pray with me?’ I asked Sam…  We said a prayer together that we find a solution, that we feel calmer.  I don’t believe in God as an old man in the clouds – ‘bespectacled old Yahweh’, as the late great John Gardner put it, ‘scratching his chin through his mountains of beard.’  But I do believe that God is with us even when we’re at our craziest and that this goodness guides, provides, protects, even in traffic.”

Amen, sister.


  1. Brian and Nicole says:

    hmmm… do you dare give it a straight up 5? Sounds like something I would really like to read!

  2. kellyschnell says:

    Hey Nicole,
    I ended up giving it a solid 4.81 – might be my highest score yet! We miss you at our Saturday morning meetings…


  3. Pat says:

    I just put this book on my Christmas list from Tiff. Thanks for posting.