Saturday, February 7, 2009

"Operating Instructions"

I was looking for the bit in an Anne Lamott book where she talks about a mom being locked out of a bedroom. Behind the door was a screaming toddler. The mom couldn't get the door open and neither could the toddler. While she waited for help to arrive, she stuck her fingers under the door and talked in soothing tones to the toddler. Anne Lamott saw that incident as a metaphor for God's presence in our lives.

I thought the obvious place to look for the source would be Lamott's book Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year." I didn't find that example, but I found lots of other great stuff I underlined years ago:

"You nonreligious types think, Well that's a funny little coincidence, but we Holy Rollers say that coincidence is just God working anonymously" (p. 61).

"Scientologists and Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses are crazier than they have to be" (she's quoting a priest friend on p. 69).

"But once an old woman at my church said the secret is that God loves us exactly the way we are and that he loves us too much to let us stay like this, and I'm just trying to trust that" (p. 96).

"I'm so crazy that sometimes I even go into the past and rehash things that turned out well yet might have turned out disastrously" (p. 132).

This metaphor is almost as good as the mom metaphor for which I was hunting: "He said he'd finally figured out a few years ago that his profound sense of control, in the world and over his life, is another addiction and a total illusion. He said that when he sees little kids sitting in the backseat of cars, in those car seats that have steering wheels, with grim expressions of concentration on their faces, clearly convinced that their efforts are causing the car to do whatever it is doing, he thinks of himself and his relationship with God: God who drives along silently, gently amused, in the real driver's seat" (p. 113).

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