Archive for June, 2009

More appreciations of A.L.

Anne LamottSubmitted by Amy Nicole McKay: A quote from Anne Lamott (pictured):

“Most people I know that have what I want—which is to say purpose, heart, balance, gratitude, joy—are people with a deep sense of spirituality. They are people in community, who pray, or practice their faith; they are Buddhists, Jews, Christians—people binding together to work on themselves and for human rights. They follow a brighter light than the glimmer of their own candle; they are part of something beautiful.”

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I’m in the mood for, Hymns

Charles Wesley's organ on which he composedOld United Methodist Hymnal hymns, in fact, and especially some Charles Wesley hymns, but any kinds of hymns are OK by me.
I started off this morning by posting this excerpt of a hymn on my Facebook, one of my all-time faves. People are sometimes surprised to learn that this was written by Eleanor Farjeon, long before it was made a Top 40 radio hit by the rock and folk singer Cat Stevens (his name at the time and he’s a Muslim now with a Muslim name that escapes me).
“Morning has broken, like the first morning;
“Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird.
“Praise for the singing! Praise for the morning!
“Praise for them springing, fresh from the word!”
And here’s a bit from one about as Charles Wesleyan as you can get:
“O for a thousand tongues to sing my great redeemer’s praise, the glories of my God and king, the triumphs of his grace!
“My gracious Master and My God, assist me to proclaim, to spread through all the earth abroad, the honors of they name.
“Jesus! the name that charmes our fears, that bids our sorrows cease; ’tis music in the sinners ears, ’tis life, and health and peace.”
And another from Brother Wesley, circa 1739:
“Glory to god, and praise and love
be ever, ever given,
by saints below and saints above,
the church in earth and heaven.
“On this glad day the glorious Sun of Righteousness arose,
On my benighted soul he shown,
and filled it with repose.
“sudden expired the legal strife,
’twas then I ceased to grieve;
my second, real, living life
I then began to live.
Then with my heart I first believed,
believed with faith divine,
power with the Holy Ghost received
to call the Savior mine.
I felt my Lord’s atoning blood
close to my soul applied;
me, me he loved, the Son of god,
for me, for me he died!
“I found and owned his promise true,
ascertained of my part,
my pardon passed in heaven I knew
when written on my heart.”
They don’t make em like that anymore–Christian songs that impart and teach theology.

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And speaking of powerful, truthful writing

It just doesn’t get any better than this God poetry, and only the King James works for this one:
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yeah, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and they staf they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Amen
— Psalm 23

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The response and conversations and discussions generated by the blog about Anne Lamott keep pouring in here and on my FB and everywhere I turn so OK, people—let’s just make July The Anne Lamott Appreciation Month at Jitterbuggingforjesus.com!
And then we’ll contact her agent Steve Barclay and demand I get an interview with her for this blog sometime.
Jitterbugger is ALWAYS THINKING!
Send in your A.L. favorite quotes, books, whatever, in the comments here whenever there’s another post about her, or email them to me (revpaulmckay@gmail.com) or Facebook (preferably anything but my email actually, thank you very much, but if you must OK.
(WARNING–if you email me with over-the-top attacks that are personal or if you’re so gutless that you attack this blogger without putting your name in full view of everybody, hold on to your hat. All bets about my deep Christian sense of compassion and kindness may be off and remember that whatever the peace of Jesus, as Dorothy Sayers said, it was not a peace of amiable indifference. On the other hand, if you want to say something nice and flattering in an email, can I take you out for coffee? a meal maybe?)
I’ll start the appreciation off by saying that I admire her writing because she writes with such brutal honesty, truth, integrity and courage and that’s the only kind of writing I have much appreciation left for in a world where so few people–writers included–have anything to say.
That’s the mark of all great writing, art or any creative pursuit. Nothing sadder than a writer of any kind, an actor or actress or director or filmmaker or playwright or poet or artist or even musician who has, nothing to say.
Nothing original, nothing fresh, nothing creative, nothing that comes from out of the proverbial box.
The bookstores are full of books with authors, most of them bestsellers, who have nothing to say, really, that will challenge your values, make you think, make you look at the world from some wholly different angle.
The saddest are those who had a lot to say when they attained fortune and fame and haven’t had much left to say for whole decades but keep churning out books under pressure from New York to write more books to sell.
Granted, those writers can still be very good writers, but they do lose a lot of their punch, in most cases, and you can often tell when they just churned out another bestseller for the skins.
Even rock n roll is subject to the test of nothing-to-say.
Mick Jagger has nothing left to say and never really had anything to say except that he couldn’t get no satisfaction aw baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, which really wasn’t much to say and Jim Morrison outlit that fire anyway.
Dave Matthews — and we all know what a freak I am about him — has so much to say, so much to say, so much to say about romance and love and love gained and love lost and unrequite and hate and death and war and peace and God and social injustice and prayer all the things that great artists and poets and writers and yes, musicians and singers want to speak to you about from their hearts and souls and minds.
Paul Simon, a true artist of a musician, singer and songwriter who can make you laugh (“if you’ll be my bodyguard, I can be your long lost pal, Al,”) make you cry (“sometimes even music is no substitute for tears,”) whatever he wants you to feel, he’ll make you feel it at some really interesting and deep level.
A world class poet like the late Pablo Neruba, who could write a whimsical ode to something as common as a kitchen table with skill equal to his ability to make you feel sick to your stomach at the poverty and violence and sickness he witnessed in the world–or write a love poem so heartfelt and passionate that you almost feel guilty for peeking with him at such a private and intimate look at the lover and the love he wrote about.
A filmmaker like Scorcese–how does he take themes like mob life and keep pumping fresh life into those characters that an old Navasota, Texas can’t really relate to on any level whatsoever unless it’s an artist as powerful as he is making you look once again at the old gang he grew up with and wanting to watch yet another mob story.
Who in American life ever had more to say about American life than Mark Twain, and in so many ways, from corny (the jumping frog story) to folksy (Adventures of Huck) to so incredibly serious (Adventures of Huck).
Tom Sawyer amused me as a child.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn made me look so hard and deep at the Southern culture that I was growing up in–the good, the bad and the ugly, as one who was white and privileged, that it–along with “To Kill a Mockingbird,” profoundly shaped the morality and philosophy and values and point of view that have sustained me for lo these many years, right into this ordained life of mine.
Anne Lamott is no Twain, no Neruda, no giant, but a truthteller and powerful truthteller at that, which makes her a mighty fine writer and favorite companion of mine.
And obviously, a favorite travel buddy of yours, a lot of you.

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So I get to the hospital and make my usual 3 p.m. swing through the ER triage and waiting area and then head to the patient and trauma rooms for rounds and spot a blond woman with long hair, maybe 35, who looks somewhat familiar, and appears to be in severe pain as she holds and rubs her head in one of the beds in the hallway and no one is around her and I hate to see anybody in pain, but especially anybody in pain alone.
“Are you hurting?” I ask her.
“My head is busting,” she grimaces. “I’m having a migraine and chest pains.”
“I’m sorry, do you have any family or anybody here with you?”
“Not now.”
I tell her I’m a chaplain and I’ll be around till midnight and will look in on her if she wants and she says that’d be good.
Six hours later, she’s flat on her back and pale as a ghost and I ask the charge nurse what’s going on with her.
“That’s . . . NAME HERE” . . . and the charge nurse tells me the name, which is so unusual a name you don’t forget one like it, and now I remember why she looks familiar. She’s in ER every few months heavily intoxicated and often to the dangerous level of alcohol poisoning and many’s the night I’ve prayed with her when she came in on occasions when she was sober but all kinds of maladies.
A genuinely sad case.
Later the same night, as they say . . . one of the younger but very skilled nurses runs up to the night manager and reports that she had an argument with a woman who pulled the IV out of her arm and the young nurse got excited and said something she should not have said to the patient, who claimed she didn’t pull the needle out of her arm—it just fell out of her arm while she was sleeping.
And if you’ve ever had an I.V. stuck in your arm and taped over in the hospital, you may know that those things just don’t fall out of the arm.
But the nurse had to report this and the supervisor tells her don’t worry about it. And I do too.
And then a woman who just had chemo is rushed into the trauma room with no pulse and within minutes the trauma team has her back to life with a strong heartbeat. Her husband is outside the room and the doctors makes a point to tell him that the CPR he did on his wife at home no doubt is the reason she was able to be revived and to have such a strong heartbeat after a couple of near death episodes.
The patient will be on a breathing machine for at least a couple of days and will still have lymphoma when she gets out of ICU but her husband and family are thankful that they still have her at all, at this time.

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About the Anne Lamott posting

The blog post with the excerpt from the Anne Lamott book drew an unbelievable number of views and reads, as well as emails and comments to me personally–all from women–which say something about this amazing spiritual writer’s popularity. She is a wonderful honest, fearless, woman, mother and writer of deep faith and talent. Too vulgar for the squeamish, but that’s her honest-to-God faith and courage and integrity also, the way I see it. I admired Lamott before I ever gave one of her books to the eldest blood of my blood, Amy McKay–who’s 30, and the mother of a 6-year-old boy and the partner of a wonderful young man who she has been with for nine years, and believe me, there’s not a bigger fan of Lamott’s than Amy McKay. That book I gave Amy may be one of the best gifts I ever gave my daughter, who has been on quite a spiritual journey herself for years and can totally relate to A.L.’s own struggles with faith, motherhood, life its own self.
I look so forward to giving Amy away as her father, and then turning around in my robe and doing her marriage to Jorge, out at a little country chapel next March.
Some days I can hardly wait.

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So, if you like colorful characters, your gonna love these little guys in Paris,  painting the town red, and green, and yellow, and purple.

 Reulf from Charlesque on Vimeo

By the way, for a stack of newspaper coupons redeemable at a Piggly Wiggly near you on any Wednesday–who sang that—“So many fantastic colors!”

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