Anne Lamott: My secret little prayer

As I struggle to let go of my tabby and face life's disappointments, there's one word that will always ease my pain

Topics: Religion, Noble Beasts, Christianity, Spirituality, Excerpt, Cats, Prayer,

Anne Lamott: My secret little prayerAnne Lamott (Credit: Sam Lamott)
The following is an excerpt from Anne Lamott's new book, "Help, Thanks, Wow: Three Essential Prayers"

It is all hopeless. Even for a crabby optimist like me, things couldn’t be worse. Everywhere you turn, our lives and marriages and morale and government are falling to pieces. So many friends have broken children. The planet does not seem long for this world. Repent! Oh, wait, never mind. I meant: Help.

What I wanted my whole life was relief—from pressure, isolation, people’s suffering (including my own, which was mainly mental), and entire political administrations. That is really all I want now. Besides dealing with standard-issue family crisis, heartbreak, and mishegas, I feel that I can’t stand one single more death in my life. That’s too bad, because as we speak, I have a cherished thirteen-year-old cat who is near death from lymphoma. I know I won’t be able to live without her.

This must sound relatively petty to those of you facing the impending loss of people, careers, or retirement savings. But if you are madly in love with your pets, as any rational person is, you know what a loss it will be for both me and my three-year-old grandson, Jax. My cat Jeanie has helped raise him, and it will be his first death. I told him that she was sick, and that the angels were going to take her from us. I tried to make it sound like rather happy news—after all, vultures aren’t coming for her, or snakes—but he wasn’t having any of it.

“Angels are taking Jeanie away?”

Yes, because she is old and needs to go live in heaven now.

He said, “I’m mad at the angels.” He’s mad at death. I’m mad at death, too. I’ve had it. I am existentially sick to death of death, and I absolutely cannot stand that a couple of friends may lose their children. I cannot stand that my son’s and grandson’s lives will hold so much isolation, strife, death, and common yet humiliating skin conditions. But as Kurt Vonnegut put it, Welcome to the monkey house. This is a hard planet, and we’re a vulnerable species. And all I can do is pray: Help.

When I pray, which I do many times a day, I pray for a lot of things. I ask for health and happiness for my friends, and for their children. This is okay to do, to ask God to help them have a sense of peace, and for them to feel the love of God. I pray for our leaders to act in the common good, or at least the common slightly better. I pray that aid and comfort be rushed to people after catastrophes, natural and man-made. It is also okay to ask that my cat have an easy death. Some of my friends’ kids are broken and their parents are living in that, and other friends’ marriages are broken, and every family I love has serious problems involving someone’s health or finances. But we can be big in prayer, and trust that God won’t mind if we pray about the cat and Jax’s tender heart.

You Might Also Like

Is God going to say, “Sorry, we don’t have enough for the cat”? I don’t think so.

I ask for help for this planet, and for her poor and for the suffering people in my little galaxy. I know even as I pray for help that there will be tremendous compassion, mercy, generosity, companionship, and laughter from other people in the world, and from friends, doctors, nurses, hospice people. I also know that life can be devastating, and it’s still okay to be pissed off at God: Mercy, schmercy. I always want the kid to live.

I can picture God saying: “Okay, hon. I’ll be here when you’re done with your list.” Then He goes back to knitting new forests or helping less pissy people until I hit rock bottom. And when I finally do, there may be hope.

There’s freedom in hitting bottom, in seeing that you won’t be able to save or rescue your daughter, her spouse, his parents, or your career, relief in admitting you’ve reached the place of great unknowing. This is where restoration can begin, because when you’re still in the state of trying to fix the unfixable, everything bad is engaged: the chatter of your mind, the tension of your physiology, all the trunks and wheel-ons you carry from the past. It’s exhausting, crazy-making.

Help. Help us walk through this. Help us come through.

It is the first great prayer.

Anne Lamott's new book, "Small Victories," is available now.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 8
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Sonic

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Sonic's Bacon Double Cheddar Croissant Dog

    Sonic calls this a "gourmet twist" on a classic. I am not so, so fancy, but I know that sprinkling bacon and cheddar cheese onto a tube of pork is not gourmet, even if you have made a bun out of something that is theoretically French.

    Krispy Kreme

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Krispy Kreme's Doughnut Dog

    This stupid thing is a hotdog in a glazed doughnut bun, topped with bacon and raspberry jelly. It is only available at Delaware's Frawley Stadium, thank god.

    KFC

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    KFC's Double Down Dog

    This creation is notable for its fried chicken bun and ability to hastily kill your dreams.

    Pizza Hut

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Pizza Hut's Hot Dog Bites Pizza

    Pizza Hut basically just glued pigs-in-blankets to the crust of its normal pizza. This actually sounds good, and I blame America for brainwashing me into feeling that.

    Carl's Jr.

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Carl's Jr. Most American Thick Burger

    This is a burger stuffed with potato chips and hot dogs. Choose a meat, America! How hard is it to just choose a meat?!

    Tokyo Dog

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Tokyo Dog's Juuni Ban

    A food truck in Seattle called Tokyo Dog created this thing, which is notable for its distinction as the Guinness Book of World Records' most expensive hot dog at $169. It is a smoked cheese bratwurst, covered in butter Teriyaki grilled onions, Maitake mushrooms, Wagyu beef, foie gras, black truffles, caviar and Japanese mayo in a brioche bun. Just calm down, Tokyo Dog. Calm down.

    Interscope

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Limp Bizkit's "Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water"

    This album art should be illegal.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>