|Thank you, SB, for the picture.|
I know pretty much every detail about her life: That she's 60 years old. That she has dreadlocks. That she was a self-described mess of an alcoholic when she converted to Christianity 29 years ago. That she gained her sobriety 28 years ago. That she writes about the life of the soul so beautifully and simply I must weep while I read her books.
She knows nothing about me, so last night when I heard her talk I wanted to tell her about me. That she is the person I want to be when I grow up, except without the alcoholism and single parenthood (and, frankly, the dreads).
My friend who loves Ann's books as much as I do sat beside me and I glanced over at her often as Ann talked about grace and grief and joy and our broken world. This friend had the perfect description for the Ann's talk--cranky, quirky, lovely, honest and earnest. The author is in the middle of her book tour, and she was sick, hates the cold, and had just come from Denver where the altitude gave her headaches. And still, she radiated the holiness she has touched. Wearing a t-shirt and jeans, she teased that she had put on make-up and her cute glasses for us.
She repeated her most famous belief about grace--“I do not understand the mystery of grace -- only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.” She told her own story, of how she was welcomed into a tiny congregation when she was still a mess, and that the congregants didn't try to fix her, they simply said "Me, too." She talked about her writing process, and how she never, ever wants to sit down and write but she does sit down and write every single day and that in that habit the creative pull ("or the Holy Spirit") sparks ideas that make their way into her books.
After an hour, talking without notes, she took questions. The final question was "What do you think God is going to say when you meet face to face?"
She straightened the sweater she had thrown over her shoulders and paused. Then she leaned into the microphone. "I think God's going to say to me, 'You. Are. Amazing.'" Then she grinned. "Then He'll say, 'Now there are a few things we need to talk about...but you. are. amazing.'"
When it was my turn to have my book signed I wanted to say something that would let Ann Lamott know how inspirational her work has been to me. I wanted to tell her that I've repeated her method for discerning the will of God to each of my Boys. I want her to know that I've muttered "bird by bird" hundreds of times as I've sat down to write a story that isn't working. Instead I stammered like a tween at a One Direction meet-up.
"Would you...thank...favorite...an honor to meet you."
Ann Lamott smiled at me with her tired eyes, and signed my book, then posed for a snapshot.
She knows nothing about me but I'm her biggest fan.