Literary Wasabi

On Tuesday, we had the pleasure of hearing Anne Lamott offer a reading from her latest book, Stitches. Hearing her speak should be on your bucket list; she is hysterical. She is one of those rare souls who seems right on the edge of sanity/insanity. Living on that edge is the source of her brilliance as a writer. In fact, the woman who introduced her said that Anne’s writing is like “literary wasabi.” Isn’t that perfect … and so true? When I read her books, or listen to her speak, I find myself jealous of the wisdom she has gained from the rawness of her life, but I am too cowardly to live that vulnerably myself. Then I wonder when I started wishing for blandness instead of wasabi …

Her latest book is about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown and what happens when our lives are shattered by tragic events. At best, we stitch ourselves and our communities back together, though we are never the same. She writes:

My understanding of incarnation is that we are not served by getting away from the grubbiness of suffering. Sometimes we feel that we are barely pulling ourselves forward through a tight tunnel on badly-scrapped elbows. But we do come out on the other side, exhausted and changed.

It would be great if we could shop, sleep or date our way out of this. Sometimes we think we can, but it feels that way only for a while. To heal, it seems we have to stand in the middle of the horror, at the foot of the cross, and wait out another’s suffering where that person can see us. To be honest, it sucks. It’s the worst, even if you are the mother of God.

Mary didn’t say, “Oh, he’ll be back in a couple of days.” She didn’t know this. She stood with her son in the deep unknowing as he died.

Yet no matter what happens to us—to our children, to our town, to our world—we feel it is still a gift to be human and to have a human life … and to understand that we and our children are going to get knocked around, sometimes so cruelly that it will take our breath away. Life can be wild, hard and sweet, but it can also be wild, hard and cruel.

But the good news is that then there is new life. Wildflowers bloom again.


Isn’t this the truth? I needed that good word today. I hope it helps you, too.

We are all in this together,

Rev. Cameron Trimble

Co-Executive Director
The Center for Progressive Renewal

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