Sometimes I think that Jesus watches my neurotic struggles, and shakes his head and grips his forehead and starts tossing back mojitos.
I am a terrible and lazy Christian. I do not believe that the Bible is the literal word of God. I just skip about a third of it.
I am a terrible and lazy Christian. I do not believe that the Bible is the literal word of God. I just skip about a third of it. I love the parts I love so much, but I find a lot of it just appalling. When a right-wing person quotes a passage in order to attack and stigmatize another person -- or group of people -- I just roll my eyes.
The truth is that progress is usually small and sneaky.
Living on earth has always been a dangerous way to spend your time.
You have to keep taking the next necessary stitch, and the next one, and the next. Without stitches, you just have rags. And we are not rags.
My idea of everything going smoothly on an airplane is (a) that I not die in a slow-motion fiery crash or get stabbed to death by terrorists and (b) that none of the other passengers try to talk to me. All conversation should end at the moment the wheels leave the ground.
On the spiritual path, all the dreck and misery is transformed, maybe not that same day, but still transformed into spiritual fuel or insight.
I do not have deep theological understanding or opinion, but I do not read the Bible as the literal word of God.
Bird by bird buddy. Just take it bird by bird.
One of the gifts of being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things, to go places and explore. Another is that writing motivates you to look closely at life, at life as it lurches by and tramps around.
Tidiness makes me think of held breath, of suspended animation.
I remember staring at my son endlessly when he was an infant, stunned by his very existence, wondering where on earth he had come from.
Love falls to earth, rises from the ground, pools around the afflicted. Love pulls people back to their feet. Bodies and souls are fed. Bones and lives heal. New blades of grass grow from charred soil. The sun rises.
My theology is based on what I tell my Sunday-school kids -- that they are loved and chosen, AS IS, now, today. That the moment is holy, sacred, and all there is -- and that we are only as sick as our secrets. So TELL IT.
I write everything as a wake-up call to myself and others, to anyone who may have gotten tired of hitting the snooze button.
I happen to be a Christian, but I know that there is one God. People worshipping goodness and love and kindness and truth are worshipping the same God.
Writing like this is a little like milking a cow: the milk is so rich and delicious, and the cow is so glad you did it.
They always threw their arms around and hugged me while crying our Yiddish endearments. Yet none of them believed in God. They believed in social justice, good works, Israel, and Bette Midler. I was nearly thirty before I met a religious Jew.
Pets are the world to me. I think they are the most obvious manifestations of divine love that we are going to see this side of eternity.
Being a parent is absolutely exhausting and draining, along with all the joy and love.
Listen to your broccoli and it will tell you how to eat it.
Why couldn't Jesus command us to obsess over everything, to try to control and manipulate people, to try not to breathe at all, or to pay attention, stomp away to brood when people annoy us, and then eat a big bag of Hershey's Kisses in bed?
Hope begins in the dark.
Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up.
When we did art with the kids, the demons would lie down.
The real payoff is the writing itself, that a day when you have gotten your work done is a good day, that total dedication is the point.
Radical self-care is quantum, and radiates out into the atmosphere, like a little fresh air.
Radical self-care is quantum, and radiates out into the atmosphere, like a little fresh air. It is a huge gift to the world. When people respond by saying, "Well, isn't she full of herself," smile obliquely, like Mona Lisa, and make both of you a nice cup of tea.
I kept my expectations low, which is one of the secrets of life.
Laughter is carbonated holiness.
I just gave up one day. Around the time the news about toxic shock came out. I thought, Fuck me, man, I give up. Come and get me.
This is the Easter message, that awakening is possible, to the goodness of God, the sacredness of human life, the sisterhood and brotherhood of all.
I thought such awful thoughts that I cannot even say them out loud because they would make Jesus want to drink gin straight out of the cat dish.
The road to enlightenment is long and difficult, and you should try not to forget snacks and magazines.
Kids are hard -they drive you crazy and break your heart- whereas grandchildren make you feel great about life, and yourself, and your ability to love someone unconditionally, finally, after all these years.
I wish grace and healing were more abracadabra kind of things. Also, that delicate silver bells would ring to announce grace's arrival. But no, it's clog and slog and scootch, on the floor, in the silence, in the dark.
You are desperate to communicate, to edify or entertain, to preserve moments of grace or joy or transcendence, to make real or imagined events come alive. But you cannot will this to happen. It is a matter of persistence and faith and hard work. So you might as well just go ahead and get started.
Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. It's like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can't stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.
Hope is not logical. It always comes as a surprise, just when you think all hope is lost. Hope is the cousin to grief, and both take time: you can't short-circuit grief, or emptiness, and you can't patch it up with your bicycle tire tube kit. You have to take the next right action.
Perfectionism means that you try not to leave so much mess to clean up. But clutter and mess show us that life is being lived.
Perfectionism means that you try desperately not to leave so much mess to clean up. But clutter and mess show us that life is being lived. Clutter is wonderfully fertile ground -- you can still discover new treasures under all those piles, clean things up, edit things out, fix things, get a grip. Tidiness suggests that something is as good as it's going to get. Tidiness makes me think of held breath, of suspended animation, while writing needs to breathe and move.
Joy is the best makeup.
Joy is the best makeup. But a little lipstick is a close runner-up.
Now she and I sit together in her room and eat chocolate, and I tell her that in a very long time when we both to go heaven, we should try to get chairs next to each other, close to the dessert table.
Grace is the light or electricity or juice or breeze that takes you from that isolated place and puts you with others who are as startled and embarrassed and eventually grateful as you are to be there.
I devoured books like a person taking vitamins, afraid that otherwise I would remain this gelatinous narcissist, with no possibility of ever becoming thoughtful, of ever being taken seriously.
I never had a particularly strong craving to procreate, except for earlier fantasies of wanting to be Marmee in Little Women.
Getting into a new relationship is like pouring Miracle-Gro on your character defects.
Good therapy helps. Good friends help. Pretending that we are doing better than we are doesn't. Shame doesn't. Being heard does.
We all have the dark, ignorant shadow inside us. I have worked endlessly to reveal it and heal it in me, but of course there's some primitive weird stuff in me. The Tea Party is about exhorting white supremacy, though, so I've had a tiny bit of trouble experiencing sympathy.
Try looking at your mind as a wayward puppy that you are trying to paper train. You don't drop-kick a puppy into the neighbor's yard every time it piddles on the floor. You just keep bringing it back to the newspaper.
Jealousy has always been my cross, the weakness and woundedness in me that has most often caused me to feel ugly and unlovable, like the Bad Seed.
I don't remember who said this, but there really are places in the heart you don't even know exist until you love a child.
One thing I know for sure about raising children is that every single day a kid needs discipline.... But also every single day a kid needs a break.
I spend most of my time alone, because I so value and thrive in the quiet. Heaven.
All freedom comes from discipline.
When God is going to do something wonderful, He or She always starts with a hardship; when God is going to do something amazing, He or She starts with an impossibility.
Certainty is missing the point entirely.
You can either practice being right or practice being kind.
Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.
Death? Be as proud as you want: bore me later, because Love is sovereign here. Life never ends. Joy comes in the morning. Glory hallelujah. And let it be so.
I try to write the books I would love to come upon that are honest, concerned with real lives, human hearts, spiritual transformation, families, secrets, wonder, craziness -- and that can make me laugh.
I write because writing is the gift God has given me to help people in the world.
I feel incredibly successful. I make a living as a writer and am able to help support a big family, my church, my bleeding-heart causes.
I wish I had thrown out the bathroom scale at age 16. Weighing yourself every morning is like waking up and asking Dick Cheney to validate your sense of inner worth.
Most marriages are a mess, and the children get caught between two bitter, antagonistic parents. My parents stayed married for 27 unhappy years, till their kids were grown, and this was a catastrophe for us.
I have a very dark sense of humor. I swear. I have a very playful relationship with Jesus.
I go to church every Sunday, which is like going to the gas station once a week and really, really filling up.
E-books are great for instant gratification -- you see a review somewhere of a book that interests you, and you can start reading it five minutes later.
Alice Adams wrote a sweet note to me after my first novel came out when I was 26, and I was so blown away that I sent her a bunch of stamps by return mail. I have no idea what I was thinking. It was a star-struck impulse.
I read the same amount of nonfiction and fiction.
I like to read away as much of the afternoon as possible, until real life rears its ugly head.
I'm much calmer as I get older, but I'm still just as capable of getting that strung-out stressed-out feeling of mental and spiritual unwellness.
I was raised with no religious training or influence. Except the influence was to be a moral and ethical person at the secular level. And to be a peace marcher, an activist for civil rights, peace and justice.
We're often ashamed of asking for so much help because it seems selfish or petty or narcissistic, but I think, if there's a God -- and I believe there is -- that God is there to help. That's what God's job is.
The American way is to not need help, but to help.
I went to church with my grandparents sometimes and I loved it.
Presents can make up for some of the disappointments that life doles out, such as it makes almost no sense and is coming to an end more quickly than ever.
If our lives are made up of a string of a thousand moments, at some of those moments we look a lot more spiritually evolved than at others.
Some people seem to understand this -- that life and change take time -- but I am not one of those people.
I like the desert for short periods of time, from inside a car, with the windows rolled up, and the doors locked. I prefer beach resorts with room service.
I went to Goucher College in Maryland for the best possible reasons -- to learn -- but then I dropped out at 19 for the best possible reasons -- to become a writer.
I accidentally forgot to graduate from college.
I was the angriest daughter on earth, and also, one of the most devoted.
I spent my whole life helping my mother carry around her psychic trunks like a bitter bellhop. So a great load was lifted when she died, and my life was much easier.
Most of me was glad when my mother died. She was a handful, but not in a cute, festive way. More in a life-threatening way, that had caused me a long time ago to give up all hope of ever feeling good about having had her as a mother.
These days cry out, as never before, for us to pay attention, so we can move through them and get our joy and pride back.
I used to tell my writing students that they must write the books they wished they could come upon -- because then the books they hungered and thirsted for would exist.
A whole lot of us believers, of all different religions, are ready to turn back the tide of madness by walking together, in both the dark and the light -- in other words, through life -- registering voters as we go, and keeping the faith.
The first holy truth in God 101 is that men and women of true faith have always had to accept the mystery of God's identity and love and ways. I hate that, but it's the truth.
No one can appropriate God, goodness, the Bible or Jesus. It just seems that way.
My mother's eyes were large and brown, like my son's, but unlike Sam's, they were always frantic, like a hummingbird who can't quite find the flower but keeps jabbing around.
No one is more sentimentalized in America than mothers on Mother's Day, but no one is more often blamed for the culture's bad people and behavior.
It was simple reality -- most competitive tennis players in my day were privileged, spoiled, entitled and white. Also, many of them were beautiful, fit, tan and of good stock -- great big hair and white teeth and long legs. Then there were the rest of us.
Seeing yourself in print is such an amazing concept: you can get so much attention without having to actually show up somewhere... You don't have to dress up, for instance, and you can't hear them boo you right away.
I've written six novels and four pieces of nonfiction, so I don't really have a genre these days.
We must not inflict life on children who will be resented; we must not inflict unwanted children on society.
When hope is not pinned wriggling onto a shiny image or expectation, it sometimes floats forth and opens.
When hope is not pinned wriggling onto a shiny image or expectation, it sometimes floats forth and opens like one of those fluted Japanese blossoms, flimsy and spastic, bright and warm. This almost always seems to happen in community.
I got a lot of things that society had promised would make me whole and fulfilled -- all the things that the culture tells you from preschool on will quiet the throbbing anxiety inside you -- stature, the respect of colleagues, maybe even a kind of low-grade fame.
The whistle is always waiting to be blown, and in some ways, it gets me to do better work.
If the present is really all we have, then the present lasts forever.
Life is really pretty tricky, and there's a lot of loss, and the longer you stay alive, the more people you lose whom you actually couldn't live without.
I think Jesus is divine love manifest on Earth, as it comes through the community of Christians.
I loved every second of Catholic church. I loved the sickly sweet rotting-pomegranate smells of the incense. I loved the overwrought altar, the birdbath of holy water, the votive candles; I loved that there was a poor box, the stations of the cross rendered in stained glass on the windows.
We can't understand when we're pregnant, or when our siblings are expecting, how profound it is to have a shared history with a younger generation: blood, genes, humor. It means we were actually here, on Earth, for a time -- like the Egyptians with their pyramids, only with children.
My mother was a not-too-devoted atheist. She went to Episcopal church on Christmas Eve every year, and that was mostly it.
I am not writing to try and convert people to fundamental Christianity. I am just trying to share my experience, strength and hope, that someone who is as messed up and neurotic and scarred and scared can be fully accepted by our dear Lord, no questions asked.
I am going to notice the lights of the earth, the sun and the moon and the stars, the lights of our candles as we march, the lights with which spring teases us, the light that is already present.
The reason I never give up hope is because everything is so basically hopeless.
For me, Jesus is my cleft in the rock. He is my safest friend, my safe totally loving accepting big brother.
Every woman's path is difficult, and many mothers were as equipped to raise children as wire monkey mothers. I say that without judgment: It is, sadly, true. An unhealthy mother's love is withering.
I am an Aries. Although I do not believe in astrology, I think this is exactly the right sign to have been born under.
I was raised in a family where none of us ever raised a voice, so there was no room to express feelings of rage or even unabashed joy -- a little bashed joy, here or there, or being mildly disgruntled.
I was raised by my parents to believe that you had a moral obligation to try and help save the world.
My parents, and librarians along the way, taught me about the space between words; about the margins, where so many juicy moments of life and spirit and friendship could be found. In a library, you could find miracles and truth and you might find something that would make you laugh so hard that you get shushed, in the friendliest way. There was sanctuary in a library, there is sanctuary now, from the war, from the storms of our family and our own anxious minds. Libraries are like the mountain, or the meadows behind the goat lady's house: sacred space."
Good Friday world, Salon.com, March 28, 2003.
My idea of absolute happiness is to be in bed on a rainy day, with my blankie, my cat, and my dog.
Pay attention to the beauty surrounding you.
Your experiences will be yours alone. But truth and best friendship will rarely if ever disappoint you.
When I was a kid, our family used to watch 'Bonanza.' I really liked having a Sunday night TV ritual.
No one tells you that your life is effectively over when you have a child: that you're never going to draw another complacent breath again... or that whatever level of hypochondria and rage you'd learned to repress and live with is going to seem like the good old days.
There is nothing as sweet as a comeback, when you are down and out, about to lose, and out of time.
I do not at all understand the mystery of grace -- only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.
I've known for years that resentments don't hurt the person we resent, but they do hurt us.
I am going to try to pay attention to the spring. I am going to look around at all the flowers, and look up at the hectic trees. I am going to close my eyes and listen.