Two weeks ago, a friend and I took a trip to a monastery. It was something we’d been meaning to do for a while, and at the end of the quarter, getting outside the city and into four inches of manure was a much-needed break.
As a general rule, I don’t take many pictures. When I’m enjoying an event or a landscape, I’d rather focus on soaking it in than on trying to capture its aura with my abysmal photography skills.
You will, however, be pleased to know that during my weekend at the monastery, I took eleven pictures. Nine were of a window; two were accidentally of my leg.
Anyhow. When staying at a monastery, it’s practically required that you bring along something meaningful to read. For me, that meant Anne Lamott’s Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith.
You might remember Lamott as the author of one of the best writing books of all time, Bird by Bird. In Plan B, she’s no less of a gently challenging maestro who will make you simultaneously laugh, sigh, and wince. Written during some of Lamott’s more spiritually fraught times (which, not coincidentally, were also during the second Bush Administration), Plan B is a collection of short stories about parenting, church, dogs, forgiveness, politics, weddings, racism, cruise ships, terminal illness, skiing, and more — in short, topics where you’re either bracing yourself for controversy or pursing your lips in preemptive boredom. But despite this broad range of topics — or perhaps because of it — Lamott succeeds in turning out a richly detailed patchwork quilt of a narrative that works very well, as one reviewer put it, as “a spiritual antidote to anxiety and despair in our increasingly fraught times.”
So if the world has been getting you down lately, and you’re exhausted from trying to nudge it towards a better state of being, try sitting down with Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith. It might not fix the world, but it might lower your cortisol levels a bit — and really, sometimes that’s all we can expect from a day.
What’s your favorite hope-filled book?
Photo credit: Book cover from Better World Books.