While I read this book a while ago, I just went through my notes and some of the quotes. I found this book to be quite refreshing and I have her latest book, Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith, on my wish list.
From the first chapter, Ham of God, Lamott’s pastor, Veronica, is quoted as defining peace as joy at rest and joy as peace on its feet (p. 7)
While describing her perspective of Rahab’s world (Joshua 2) and the impulse Rahab felt to align herself with God’s people – even at great risk to her own life – Lamott describes the upside of desperation and even likens it to an acronym for G.O.D.: gifts of desperation. The main gift, she writes, is a willingness to give up the conviction that [we] are right. The fruit is a greater sensitivity to God’s voice; which she describes as “the secret place that, as Robert Frost wrote, ‘sits in the middle and knows'” (pgs. 19-22).
When we pray, we are not starting a conversation from scratch, we are just remembering to plug back into a conversation that’s always been in progress (pg. 25).
When God is going to do something wonderful, He or She always starts with hardship (p. 33).
Lamott writes, “Some people think that God is in the details, but I have come to believe that God is in the bathroom. Prayer usually means praise, or surrender, acknowledging that you have run out of bullets” (p. 37).
Lamott writes poignantly about her mother’s death and the myriad of feelings that tormented and challenged her. She even left her mom’s ashes in the closet while she worked out her feelings and her grief! She writes, “So I left her in the closet for two years to stew in her own ashes, and I refused to be nice to her, and didn’t forgive her…I assumed Jesus wanted me to forgive her, but I also know he loves honesty and transparency…I know forgiveness is a component of freedom, yet I couldn’t…grant her amnesty. Forgiveness means it finally becomes unimportant that you hit back.”
We are responsible not for the outcome of things, but only for their ingredients (p.61).
Lamott sees Jesus’ mother Mary as the feminine face of divine love. And in unpacking the Catholic prayer, Hail Mary (sometimes called the “Angelical Salutation”, from the first words in its Latin form, the “Ave Maria”) she focuses on the phrase “full of grace” and quotes Archbishop Carlo Maria Martini of Milan who writes that the phrase is passive and past tense, so it really means something like, “You have been loved for a very long time” (p. 63).
Laughter is carbonated holiness (p. 66).
Love and patience are like Holiness Helper in each other’s lives (p. 69).
Lamott shares a Hasidic story of a rabbi who always told his people that if they studied the Torah, it would put Scripture on their hearts. One of them asked, “Why on our hearts instead of in our hearts?” The rabbi answered, “Only God can put Scripture inside. But reading sacred text can put it on your hearts, and then when your hearts break, the holy words will fall inside” (p. 73).
Lamott, at one point, prays, “Please let me feel you You while I adjust to not getting what I was hoping for” (pgs. 74-75).
Maybe this is what grace is, the unseen sounds that make you look up (p. 162).
Time-tested friends help us to step into the shape that is waiting for us (p. 172).
Faith is not about how we feel, it is about how we live (p. 213).
Quoting Gerald May, “Grace threatens all my normalities” (p. 233).
Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns. Faith also means reaching deeply within, for the sense one is born with… (p. 257).