Grace (Eventually)

grace eventually

Grace (Eventually)
Thoughts on Faith

Anne Lamott
Riverhead Books, 2007

Excerpt from the dust jacket: “The world, community, the family, the human heart: these are the beautiful and complicated arenas in which our lives unfold. Wherever you look, there’s trouble and wonder, pain and beauty, restoration and darkness—sometimes all at once.

“Yet amid the confusion, if you look carefully, in nature or in the kitchen, in ordinariness or in mystery, beyond the emotional muck we all slog through, you’ll find it eventually, a path, some light to see by, moments of insight, courage, or buoyancy. In other words, grace.

“…Lamott describes how she copes. The challenges seem alternately inconsequential and insurmountable—the anger engendered by an obstinate carpet salesman or president; the engulfing envy at a friend’s professional success; the bewilderment at discovering that a child has grown up or that a friend wants to die on his own terms—and they are also universal.

“Wise and irreverent, poignant and funny, Grace (Eventually) is a primer in faith, as we come to discover what it means to be fully human and alive.”

This book is definitely a keeper and a book to be reread. It is, at times, a bit dated now, 10 years on, because Ms Lamott tends to go on and on about President George W. Bush and his failings. But, by reading between the lines, one can discover a wealth of truth that can be applied to any person in charge anywhere. Beyond that, this book is a favorite because the author is candid about her faith in all its triumphs and failings. If the reader is interested in a book that is positively positive and puts forth the belief that life is glorious once God comes into your life, then this is not the book to read. However, if you want the human truth of what it means to “slog” through the complications of life and how, all too often, your faith can falter and even fail you, and, how eventually, we’ll all make it through by the Grace of God, then this is a book to read. Like the publisher blurb said, it is irreverent, funny but stuffed to the last word of an abiding faith in a Merciful and Loving God.

Rating: 5 out of 5 paws, because there is a lifetime’s worth of diving for pearls in this unassuming book.

Reviewer:

jack-loc Jack

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Tears to Triumph

tears a

Tears to Triumph
Spiritual Healing for the Modern Plagues of Anxiety and Depression

Marianne Williamson
HarperCollins Publishers, 2016

Marianne Williamson is a favorite author in the Library. For inspirational reading, she’s my go-to author, even if I don’t always comprehend what she is writing.  Much of what she writes is leagues ahead of me, spiritually speaking and I don’t mind. When I chose an inspirational book to read, I want one that not only meets me where I am currently, but more importantly, inspires me to move forward.

Ms Williamson begins the book by discussing the proliferation of depression in the world today and the medicinal efforts to, if not cure it, then maintain it to an ability-to-live-a-‘normal’-life level. Moving forward she then offers spiritual reasons behind depression and solutions for healing, not just ‘maintaining’ a semblance of normality.

Although this book is placed on my “read once a year for spiritual nourishment” list, there are two things that bugged me. First, the author continually refers back to A Course in Miracles, multiple times each chapter. I don’t mind her quoting the book, but for the sake of continuity in the writing I think footnotes would have been less intrusive. Second, while she discusses the heavy antidepressant use in the general population, and a spiritual alternative to drugs, she doesn’t bring it up again after Chapter Five. By the time I got to the end of the book and read the final, conclusive chapter, she didn’t even mention depression and antidepressants. If seemed like once she offered a spiritual solution, she dropped the subject. A concluding chapter in any book should, in my non-writing humble opinion, should wrap up all the subjects touched on in the previous words (blame it on hard-nosed English professors). It felt like the subject was just left on the table, or, was unimportant.

Rating 5 out of 5 paws – despite the two things that bugged me, this book will become a permanent part of the Library stacks and it will be read at least once a year.

Reviewer: jack-loc

Julia Child Rules

julia child rules

Julia Child Rules
Lessons on Savoring Life

Karen Karbo
Illustrations by Mark Steele
skirt!, an imprint of Globe Pequot Press, 2013

From the dust jacket: “…Julia Child Rules dissects the life of the sunny, unpretentious chef, author, cooking show star, and bon vivant, with an eye towards learning how we, too, can savor life.

“…{the author} takes us for a spin through Julia’s life: from her idyllic childhood in California to her confusing young adulthood in New York, her years working for the OSS in Sri Lanka, her world-class love affairs with Paris and Paul Child, and her decades as America’s beloved French chef. {The author} weaves in her own personal experiences and stops for import life lessons along the way: how to live by your whims, make the world your oyster, live happily married, work hard, and enjoy a life of full immersion. It celebrates Julia’s indomitable spirit and irrepressible joy, giving readers a taste of what it means to master the art of living.”

Julia Child was an amazing woman and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about her life. The author wrote about Julia in a way one might write to a friend about another friend. It is friendly, warm and funny and far from one of those staid, traditional, (and some may say, dry) biographies. It is inspirational and thought provoking, especially with the ‘Rules’ with which the book was tied together. Some of my favorites were: “Rule 1: Live with Abandon; Rule #3: Learn to be Amused; Rule #4: Obey Your Whims; Rule #6: To Be Happy, Work Hard; Rule #7: Solve the Problem in Front of You.” All good rules for any one follow, but the main overall thought is to accept who you are and be that person. Julia knew she would never win any beauty contest but she accepted that fact and was happy and successful anyway. She lived every moment of her life until she lived no more. Her life had just as many valleys and peaks as any of us has, yet she accepted the moments, both good and awful, for what they were and then moved on, still excited about the next step.

Rating 4 out of 5 paws for providing inspiration to get out of bed each morning and throw myself fully into my life, savoring it all.

Reviewer:

jack-loc

Jack, North Carolina Division Chief and Banned Books Librarian

Angel Letters

angel letters

Angel Letters
 
Ballentine Books, 1991
 
After writing and publishing her book, A Book of Angels, hundreds of people wrote to the author telling their own angel stories. Those stories are compiled into this book, Angel Letters. “These experiences of healing, rescue, warning, and comfort, of angelic blessings seen and unseen, will bring solace, wonder, laughter, and inspiration to anyone who welcomes a little angelic intervention in everyday life.” (From the dust jacket, inside flap.)
 
The stories in this little book are really inspirational. Sometimes in this crazy world we need to be reminded that we are Loved and Looked After.  Here’s a story shared by the author – 
 
“I remember once I was in the desert without a hat. The sun beat down unmercifully. I thought, “I ought to have a hat; I’m going to get sunstroke.” And four hundred paces ahead, behind a rock, was a battered, torn straw hat. I clapped it on my head. This was before I understood that something—angels, a spiritual cavalry—is watching over us, waiting to be of help. And not to me alone but to all of us and all the time.  I took it as a lucky accident, that hat.”
 
 
As I read these stories, my skin rippled with goose pimples and I was truly amazed at some of them (one of my favorites was the elderly man on the side of the road that stopped a car from plowing head-on into a herd of deer in the dead of night. However, even as deeply as I believe in angels and the Presence of the Divine in my life – some of the stories were a little more difficult for me to believe – but then I realized, I don’t have to believe them. They weren’t my angels; those messages weren’t meant for me.
 
If you believe in angels – or even if you don’t – I hope you’ll find this book to be inspiring, or at the very least, thought provoking.
 
Rating:  4 paws
 
IMG_1067Reviewer: Jack

Gift from the Sea

Gift_from_the_sea_by_anne_morrow_liGift from the Sea
 
Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Pantheon Books, 1997, 1955
 
 
From the back of the book, “A modern-day classic here are Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s elegant and wise meditations on youth and age, love and marriage, solitude, peace, and contentment, as she set the down during a brief vacation by the ocean. She helps us see ways to reconcile our most deeply personal needs with obligations to family, friends, lovers, and work, ways to separate loneliness from replenishing solitude, and ways to find solace in the simplest of daily tasks. Now more than ever, Gift from the Sea serves as a spiritual compass guiding us toward inner tranquility in the face of life’s deeper questions.”
 
I loved this book. It is going on my wish list to add to my library. There is so much nourishment contained within its pages that it deserves – no, demands – to be read once a year. This one reading only scratched the surface if the treasure within. I read it slowly – had to renew it once at the library – as to savor the words and lessons. And there are lessons to be learned and applied to my life. Lessons that are just as meaningful today as the time in which they were originally written.  First published in 1955, her insight into the world and its foibles is just as apropos today as it was then. This quote is timely despite its age:
 
The inter-relatedness of the world links us constantly with more people than our hearts can hold.  Or rather—for I believe the heart is infinite—modern communications loads us with more problems than the human frame can carry. It is good, I think, for our hearts, our minds, our imaginations to be stretched; but body, nerve, endurance and life-span are not as elastic. My life cannot implement in action the demands of all the people to whom my heart responds. I cannot marry all of them, or bear them all as children, or care for them all as I would my parents in illness or old age. Our grandmothers, and even—with some scrambling—our mothers, lived in a circle small enough to let them implement in action most of the impulses of their hearts and minds. We were brought up in a tradition that has now become impossible, for we have extended our circle throughout space and time.
 
I love the way the author writes – it is quiet, lyrical, and soothing. Like a cup of cool water on a hot day or a mug of hot chocolate on a cold night.
 
“The sea does no reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open choiceless as a beach—waiting for a gift from the sea.”
 
Rating:  5 paws
 
IMG_1067Reviewer: Jack
220px-CharlesLindbergh22 Of interest: Anne Morrow Lindbergh was the wife of Charles Lindbergh, of flying solo across the Atlantic fame and mother of  the infamous kidnapping and subsequent murder of her son, Charles Lindbergh, Jr.