Just One Thought: Help.
I ran a 5K on Saturday; and my house, this past week, was full of vomit, lice, and jackhammers; I was going to write about one of those things for this post. But the events in Newtown on Friday gave me–and all of us, I’m betting–a massive reality check.
I was lucky enough to have a few lice-free, puke-free, quiet moments this weekend, and used them to sit down with Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers, Anne Lamott’s new sliver of a book that is wise and funny and so relatable. I am a huge AL fan, and as I was reading this passage, which takes the personal and broadens it to the universal and horrifically current, I had to share. I know it makes a ton of sense to me as I contemplate how I will continue to process the lives lost and the devastation felt by all the affected families, including those of the victims and the accused. I hope it will to you too.
I am very aware that that running and politics don’t really mix, and running and religion aren’t the best bedfellows either. But Lamott has a way of writing about prayer that is far from preachy. That said, I completely understand if you’re not thrilled with this choice of a post; if that’s the case, I respectfully ask you to refrain from commenting and come back for our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow. Thanks.
[When I pray] I ask for help for this planet, and for her poor, and for the suffering people in my little galaxy. I know even as I pray for help that there wil be tremendous compassion, mercy, generosity, companionship, and laughter from other people in the world, and from friends, doctors, nurses, hospice people. I also know that life can be devastating, and it’s still okay to be pissed off at God. Mercy, schmercy. I always want the kid to live.
I can picture God saying, “Okay, hon, I’ll be here when you’re done with your list.” Then He goes back to knitting new forests or helping less pissy people until I hit rock bottom. And when I finally do, there may be hope.
There’s freedom in hitting bottom, in seeing that you won’t be able to save or rescue your daughter, her spouse, his parents, or your career, relief in admitting you’ve reaching the place of great unknowing. This is where restoration can begin, because when you’re still in the state of trying to fix the unfixable, everything bad is engaged: the chatter of your mind, the tension of your physiology, all the trunks and wheel-ons you carry from the past. It’s exhausting, crazy-making.
Help. Help us walk through this. Help us come through.
It is the first great prayer.
I don’t pray for God to do this or that, or for God’s sake to knock it off, or for specific outcomes. Well, okay, maybe a little…Help. Hold my friends in Your light.
There are no words for the broken hearts of people losing people, so I ask God, with me in tow, to respond to them with graciousness and encouragement enough for the day. Everyone we love and for whom we pray with such passion will die, which is the one real fly in the ointment so we pray for miracles–please help this friend live, please help that friend die gracefully–and we pray for the survivors to somehow come through…Please help this town bounce back. Please help those parents come through, please help these kids come through…Help.