After finishing reading Anne Lamott’s Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers it didn’t make sense not to share my favorite quotes about faith from the lovely little book (I love Anne’s little books; they’re all so lovely and bigger than they seem).
“Does sunset sometimes look like the sun is coming up? Do you know what a faithful love is like? You’re crying; you say you’ve burned yourself. But can you think of anyone who’s not hazy with smoke?” — Rumi
I start this entry off with the opening poem from the book, one from Rumi, Anne’s (and many people’s) go-to Sufi mystic.
“I don’t know much about God and prayer,” she writes as her opening statement, “but I have come to believe, over the past twenty-five years, that there’s something to be said about keeping prayer simple.”
Help. Thanks. Wow. These three prayers (religious views aside, or included) are simple truths that can help us move forward in life on earth.
I appreciate the way she describes prayer, as being “communication from the heart to that which surpasses understanding.”
You can pray to God, to the Good, to the Universe, to an abounding energy of your own definition, to Life or Love. “Nothing could matter less than what we call this force,” she says.
If you haven’t read any of Anne Lamott’s books before, please do.
I fell in love with her book Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair. Now my loft wall is lined with a hefty handful of her delightful writing (thanks, Mom) and it’s a test of willpower not to escape from the world for a week with only her words to keep me entertained.
What I love most about Anne’s writing is that she’s far from being too serious about topics we tend to take too seriously. Reading her books is like a sigh of relief, an honest conversation with a friend who still has a sense of humor because she knows first hand that it’s how you get though tough times.
In Help, Thanks, Wow, she addresses faith and everything that comes along with it and leads to it: heartache, trial, friendship, recovery, prayer.
“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. / I awoke and saw that life was service. / I acted and behold, service was joy.” — Rabindranath Tagore
Anytime I read a book, especially if it pertains to topics I like to share here, the pages are sure to be adorned with messy stars noting favorite passages and insights.
From my starry Anne Lamott book, here are 21 quotes about faith that resonated with my sometimes-chaotic head and the heart I try to keep open to Everything.
21 Quotes about Faith from Help, Thanks, Wow by Anne Lamott
1. “Prayer means that, in some unique way, we believe we’re invited into a relationship with someone who hears us when we speak in silence.” — Anne Lamott
2. “Prayer is talking to something or anything with which we seek union, even if we are bitter or insane or broken… Prayer is taking a chance that against all odds and past history, we are loved and chosen, and do not have to get it together before we show up. The opposite may be true: We may not be able to get it together until after we show up in such miserable shape.” — Anne Lamott
3. “Light reveals us to ourselves, which is not always so great if you find yourself in a big disgusting mess, possibly of your own creation. But like sunflowers we turn toward light… And in this light, we can see beyond shadow and illusion to something beyond our modest receptors, to what is way beyond us, and deep inside.” — Anne Lamott
4. “But where do we even start on the daily walk of restoration and awakening? We start where we are.” — Anne Lamott
5. “Most good, honest prayers remind me that I am not in charge, that I cannot fix anything, and that I open myself to being helped by something, some force, some friends, some something.” — Anne Lamott
6. “Sometimes circumstances conspire to remind us or even let us glimpse how thin the membrane is between here and there, between birth and the grave, between the human and the divine.” — Anne Lamott
7. “Life unspools in cycles, some lovely, some painful, but in no predictable order.” — Anne Lamott
8. “And at some point, we cast our eyes to the beautiful skies, above all the crap we’re wallowing in, and we whisper, ‘Thank you.’” — Anne Lamott
9. “Gratitude begins in our hearts and then dovetails into behavior. It almost always makes you willing to be of service, which is where the joy resides.” — Anne Lamott
10. “What a great scam, to have gotten people of such extreme quality and loyalty to think you are stuck with them.” — Anne Lamott
11. “You breathe in gratitude, and you breathe it out, too.” — Anne Lamott
12. “When we go from rashy and clenched to grateful, we sometimes get to note the experience of grace, in knowing that we could not have gotten ourselves from where we were stuck, in hate or self-righteousness or self-loathing (which are the same thing), to freedom. The movement of grace in our lives toward freedom is the mystery.” — Anne Lamott
13. “Poetry is the official palace language of Wow.” — Anne Lamott
14. “When we are stunned to the place beyond words, we’re finally starting to get somewhere… when an aspect of life takes us away from being able to chip away at something until it’s down to a manageable size and then to file it nicely away, when all we can say in response is ‘Wow,’ that’s a prayer.” — Anne Lamott
15. “Love falls to earth, rises from the ground, pools around the afflicted. Love pulls people back to their feet. Bodies and souls are fed. Bones and lives heal. New blades of grass grow from charred soil. The sun rises.” — Anne Lamott
16. “Art makes it hard to ignore truth, that Life explodes and blooms, consumed, rots and radiates and slithers; that eternity really is in a blade of grass.” — Anne Lamott
17. “Wonder takes our breath away, and makes room for new breath.” — Anne Lamott
18. “Awe is why were are here. And this state is the prayer: ‘Wow.’” — Anne Lamott
19. “We see in art a moment in time, an instant, and this is holy.” — Anne Lamott
20. “Astonishing material and revelation appear in our lives all the time. Let it be. Unto us, so much is given. We just have to be open for business.” — Anne Lamott
21. “We are saved by memories of love and beauty—maybe there’s more of that to come, if we keep on keeping on.” — Anne Lamott
. . .
Which of these quotes is your favorite?
Tell me in the comments. I read every single one, and I'd love to know!
“It may be one of those miracles where your heart sinks,” Anne writes of asking for help and getting an answer, maybe not the one you had hoped for, “because you think it means you have lost. But in surrender you have won. And if it were me, after a moment, I would say, Thanks.”