Help, Thanks, Wow
Posted by: MaryKate Perry
I have decided that this is installment #2 in a series of posts on Short and Spiritual titles (see installment # 1 here). I am taking suggestions for titles.
Recently, I had the opportunity to sit poolside in Tucson, where a friend handed me Anne Lamott’s little slip of a book, Help, Thanks, Wow. I was grateful, since I had failed to bring the perfect poolside read. This book isn’t much like the title it evokes, Eat, Pray, Love, (now that may be the perfect poolside read) though like Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, it is a meditation on our relationship with a higher power (Gilbert also has a relationship with a suave Brazilian in the “Love” portion of the book, but you can’t spend all your time in meditation and prayer).
I admire Lamott’s humor and the beauty of her language, even as I shudder a bit at her tendency to be overly revelatory (maybe it’s the Lutheran in me). And yet, despite wincing occasionally at her irreverence, I found this slim volume enjoyable and edifying. She loosely structures the book around what she considers the three essential prayers: supplication, gratitude and awe. And after reading this, I think that if a person focused on these three attitudes toward life, God and the transcendent, she couldn’t go far wrong. Lamott attends a Christian church but makes it clear in the introduction that she intends the book to be suitable for those of no creed.
Lamott recounts, with frank compassion, numerous tales of sorrow and loss in the lives of her friends. I found it instructive and humbling to be reminded that people experience heart-crushing grief but persist in finding beauty and feeling the pull of the divine. If it is true that in the midst of life we are in death then it pays to remember that in death we are still in the midst of life, with all it’s surprising love and wonder. We can observe and revere that which is Godlike, merciful and true, even as we traverse the vale of shadows.
This passage made me smile: “Gorgeous, amazing things come into our lives when we are paying attention: mangoes, grandnieces, Bach, ponds.” As a matter of fact, a mango did come into my life, just this morning, in all it’s glorious, oval beauty. I gave it my rapt attention and it was amazing.