Anne Lamott On Extending Mercy In An Age Of Resistance

By Heidi Stevens
Chicago Tribune

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Heidi Stevens takes a look at Anne Lamott’s new book “Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy”

Chicago Tribune

Anne Lamott is my Oprah.

She’s my pastor, my life coach, my book club leader and my personal trainer (except with words instead of reps: Ten more! You’re almost done!).

She’s not my therapist; I pay to see my therapist in person.

But Lamott’s wise counsel, dispensed in such gems as “Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life,” “Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith” and “Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year”, has shaped my brain and heart in ways that are nearly impossible to measure.

So if she wants me to practice mercy, by golly, I’ll try.

“Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy,” is a clarion call to the better angels of our nature: Rise up. Forgive. Show a little grace, will ya?

“Mercy means compassion, empathy, a heart for someone’s troubles,” Lamott writes. “It’s not something you do, it is something in you, accessed, revealed, or cultivated through use, like a muscle. We find it in the most unlikely places, never where we first look.”

She meditates on the moments she received mercy, when she was addicted to alcohol, when she wrote an insensitive tweet about Caitlyn Jenner, when she stumbled as a parent. And she reflects on the moments she offered mercy, to others and herself.

“When you’re extending mercy and forgiving really impossible and annoying people, you may find you can extend forgiveness to annoying and impossible you,” Lamott told me. “It’s like Nautilus for the spiritual muscles.”

Lamott is a longtime progressive whose politics don’t mesh well with the Trump administration.

Her book, she says, is not necessarily a reaction to current events, but it offers a different lens through which to view them.

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