>Where do I begin to tell about a miracle?
Where do I start?
About two and a half months ago I went to see my doctor about my extreme distress over my son. I wasn’t sleeping and I was having panic attacks on a regular and frightening basis. I really wanted some nice medication to make me sleep and maybe some of that other stuff that takes the nasty edge off of life.
Unfortunately, I have one of those country doctors who sits down and lulls you into the belief that you are their only patient of the day, maybe the week. He never rushes in and hands over prescriptions to get you in and out as quickly as possible; that just isn’t his style. He also happens to be devoutly Catholic and holistic in his approach to patients. After listening to my breath sounds, palpating my liver and taking a full history of my current complaints, he prescribed Fear and Trembling by Soren Kierkegaard (Yes, at my insistance he actually wrote this on a prescription pad.). (Ok, he also gave me a prescription for Ambien. I told him I’d read his silly book, but that he’d lose an arm if he didn’t give me sleeping pills too.)
First, I had to order the book. I try to order local whenever possible since the economy of our tiny town is precarious, so I headed off to our little bookstore and ordered the book. It was going to take almost two weeks to get it in and so I bought Beautiful Boy by David Sheff to read in the meantime.
I’m certain there are probably atheists in foxholes, but I wonder how many atheists there are in the foxhole of trying to rescue and retrieve a child who is breaking your heart. David Sheff starts off as an educated and reasonable atheist, but somewhere along the way he picks up a nasty and persistent bout of faith. A faith in what, I don’t know because he doesn’t really elaborate, but in the midst of his agony, like all of us on this particular road, with nothing else to do, he finally is reduced to prayer.
On the cover of Beautiful Boy there is an endorsement by Anne Lamott. The name looked familiar. Oh yeah, my dear emaginary friend Magnolia had also recommended Anne Lamott as a good read. I thought to myself after finishing Beautiful Boy that I would like to pick up something of Lamott’s sometime in the future. So when I headed back to the little local bookstore (finally) to pick up my Fear and Trembling and I saw Plan B by Anne Lamott sitting in the window, I felt it was kismet.
The title of her book, Plan B, was particularly intriguing. You see, when my mother was sick with Stage 4 cancer last year and I faced the incredibly daunting task of rescuing and retrieving her out of Tennessee and moving her to California, my motto was “There is only Plan A; there is no Plan B.” I can’t tell you how many times I said this to myself and outloud to my whiny and doubtful and extremely sick mother. That was back when I was certain and decisive. That was only last year, but it seems like eons ago. Now I was the whiny and doubtful one. Honestly, I think that Jesus should have said, “Judge not lest the exact same thing you are judging happens to your sorry self.” I haven’t gotten cancer like my mother, but, eerily reminiscent of her, I most certainly have found myself, in the last year, reduced to a trembling anxious mess overwhelmed by life and unable to confidently answer a phone or open mail. Plan B by Anne Lamott taunted and teased me. I felt God standing there in the bookstore laughing at me and all but daring me to read her book. So I bought it along with the little paperback by Kierkegaard.
When I got home I looked through both books. Let’s see, the funny short essays by Anne Lamott or the brain-hurting philosophy book by Kierkegaard? Which to read, which to read? The deciding factor was which one could I read in the ten minutes between taking Ambien and waiting to fall asleep. In other words, it was no contest at all. I read Plan B. And I fell madly and passionately in love with Anne Lamott.
There are two celebrities I wish were my personal friends. One is the Barefoot Contessa, otherwise known as Ina Garten (I would love to be invited to a dinner party at her house in The Hamptons) and the other is Anne Lamott. Why, oh why, can’t I know Anne Lamott in real life? Why, oh why, can’t I be invited to a dinner party in The Hamptons with Ina Garten and Anne Lamott? THAT would be a good time!!!
Anyway, if you don’t know who Anne Lamott is then you probably don’t understand how dangerous it is for a Christian like me to admit to loving her. For starters and for a conversation finisher for most of my very conservative, Republican Christian friends, she’s a Christian liberal. Who knew they existed? They do and Anne Lamott is one of them. And she’s a damn good writer. The entire time I’m reading her I’m hearing that song “Killing me Softy with his Song” by Roberta Flack playing in the background of my mind. How is it that this woman has been living my life and thinking my thoughts and I didn’t even know it?? I thought I was so special.
Plan B was fun and funny and poignant and so I bought her book, Traveling Mercies. Since I have a personal rule about books (which I break all the time, by the way), I made myself read Fear and Trembling first. Fear and Trembling, for those who don’t know (and I was one who didn’t know), is an indepth analysis of faith culled from the story of Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac. It is a deep book, not an easy read, and it has really challenged me, but that isn’t the point of this story. The point of this story is the miracle I got on the plane to Arkansas.