Sunday, October 26, 2008

Traveling Mercies

I am hosting the neighborhood book club tomorrow night (Monday). I chose the book Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott. I have to admit I am a little nervous about how the book will be received. Lamott has been described as a "dreadlock wearing, politically liberal, born-again Christian who uses biting humor - and sometimes foul language - when she describes her deeply held personal faith." She's a recovered alcoholic and bulimic who has raised her son alone. I love her writing, her wit, and her candor. Some of her sentences make me laugh out loud and some bring me to tears. I love that she is a Christian who freely admits how hard it is to keep the faith, to trust, to be good, to keep getting up every morning and trying again. I love that in Traveling Mercies she has a whole chapter on her weird hair, and how, even though she is a white woman she finally found her true beauty and freedom in dreadlocks. (I can SO relate to that chapter.) She calls her plump thighs "the aunties" and has a chapter about body issues and being on a beach vacation with tiny teens, and that even though they're perfect now, we all know that they have the same self-consciousness we all do.
I wanted to tell them the good news - that at some point you give up on ever looking much better than you do. Somehow, you get a little older, a little fatter, and you end up going a little easier on yourself. Or a lot easier. And I no longer felt ugly, maybe just a little ridiculous. I held my head a bit higher: I touched the aunties gently, to let them know I was there, and that made me feel less afraid. Ugliness is creeping around in fear, I remembered. Yet, here I was, almost naked, and - to use the medical term - flabbier than shit, but deeply loyal to myself.
I forced myself not to check out their butts.
Maybe all the book club ladies will relate to some of that, but it's all the Christianity I'm nervous about. But, you never know, maybe it will speak to someone - quietly - unexpectedly. I hope so.


The Real Mother Hen said...

Hey the para sure has a good sense of humor.
I have heard of this book. Hhmm, I think a group in my church is reading it. Now I'm going to ask.

Cheryl said...

I love your description of the book and the quote. That will go on my list.

Kelly Jene said...

Sounds fascinating!! I will add it to my list, too. Christianity or not, it's still a book and it's worth reading.

Kathiesbirds said...

Never heard of Anne Lamott but as a middle-aged woman dealing with an ever widening middle-aged spread, that passage is refreshing and it made me laugh! (Now if I can just adopt that attitude!)