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.
Bananas are great, as I believe them to be the only known cure for existential dread. Also, Mother Teresa said that in India, a woman dying in the street will share her banana with anyone who needs it, whereas in America, people amass and hoard as many bananas as they can to sell for an exorbitant profit. So half of them go bad, anyway.
Being on a book tour is like being on the seesaw when you’re a little kid. The excitement is in having someone to play with, and in rising up in the air, but then you’re at the mercy of those holding you down, and if it’s your older brother, or Paul Wolfowitz, they leap up, so that you crash down and get hurt.
For a life oriented to leisure is in the end a life oriented to death – the greatest leisure of all.
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.
Hope is not about proving anything. It’s about choosing to believe this one thing, that love is bigger than any grim, bleak shit anyone can throw at us.
I accidentally forgot to graduate from college.
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.
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.
I am the woman I grew to be partly in spite of my mother, and partly because of the extraordinary love of her best friends, and my own best friends’ mothers, and from surrogates, many of whom were not women at all but gay men. I have loved them my entire life, even after their passing.
I didn’t need to understand the hypo static unity of the Trinity; I just needed to turn my life over to whoever came up with redwood trees.
I didn’t write about my mother much in the third year after she died. I was still trying to get my argument straight: When her friends or our relatives wondered why I was still so hard on her, I could really lay out the case for what it had been like to be raised by someone who had loathed herself, her husband, even her own name.
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 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 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.
I don’t want something special. I want something beautifully plain.
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.
I hate the summer.
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 love readings and my readers, but the din of voices of the audience gives me stage fright, and the din of voices inside whisper that I am a fraud, and that the jig is up. Surely someone will rise up from the audience and say out loud that not only am I not funny and helpful, but I’m annoying, and a phony.
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.
I see that children fill the existential hollowness many people feel; that when we have children, we know they will need us, and maybe love us, but we don’t have a clue how hard it is going to be.
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.
I used to love to untangle chains when I was a child. I had thin, busy fingers, and I never gave up. Perhaps there was a psychiatric component to my concentration but like much of my psychic damage, this worked to everyone’s advantage.
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.
I was raised by my parents to believe that you had a moral obligation to try and help save the world.
I was the angriest daughter on earth, and also, one of the most devoted.
I went to church with my grandparents sometimes and I loved it.
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 woke up full of hate and fear the day before the most recent peace march in San Francisco. This was disappointing: I’d hoped to wake up feeling somewhere between Virginia Woolf and Wavy Gravy.
I would seriously rather be in a long line at the DMV than eat with people I don’t know.
I’m drawn to almost any piece of writing with the words ‘divine love’ and ‘impeachment’ in the first sentence. But I know the word ‘divine’ makes many progressive people run screaming for their cute little lives, and so one hesitates to use it.
I’ve known for years that resentments don’t hurt the person we resent, but they do hurt us.
I’ve written six novels and four pieces of nonfiction, so I don’t really have a genre these days.
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.
If the present is really all we have, then the present lasts forever.
If you don’t die of thirst, there are blessings in the desert. You can be pulled into limitlessness, which we all yearn for, or you can do the beauty of minutiae, the scrimshaw of tiny and precise. The sky is your ocean, and the crystal silence will uplift you like great gospel music, or Neil Young.
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.
It’s a great time to be alive.
Joy is the best makeup.
Laughter is carbonated holiness.
Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.
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.
Most of the time, all you have is the moment, and the imperfect love of the people around you.
My coming to faith did not start with a leap but rather a series of staggers from what seemed like one safe place to another. Like lily pads, round and green, these places summoned and then held me up while I grew. Each prepared me for the next leaf on which I would land, and in this way I moved across the swamp of doubt and fear.
My mother might find a thin gold chain at the back of a drawer, wadded into an impossibly tight knot, and give it to me to untangle. It would have a shiny, sweaty smell, and excite me: Gold chains linked you to the great fairy tales and myths, to Arabia, and India; to the great weight of the world, but lighter than a feather.
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.
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.
No one can appropriate God, goodness, the Bible or Jesus. It just seems that way.
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.
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.
Nothing heals us like letting people know our scariest parts: When people listen to you cry and lament, and look at you with love, it’s like they are holding the baby of you.
Pay attention to the beauty surrounding you.
Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor.
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.
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.
Some people won’t go the extra mile, and then on their birthday, when no one makes a fuss, they feel neglected and bitter.
Summer nearly does me in every year. It’s too hot and the light is unforgiving and the days go on way too long.
Teenagers who do not go to church are adored by God, but they don’t get to meet some of the people who love God back.
The earth is rocky and full of roots; it’s clay, and it seems doomed and polluted, but you dig little holes for the ugly shriveled bulbs, throw in a handful of poppy seeds, and cover it all over, and you know you’ll never see it again – it’s death and clay and shrivel, and your hands are nicked from the rocks, your nails black with soil.
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.
The Giants are usually described as rag tag, kind of a great garage sale team, and the Democrats are described as the Mommies to the Republican Daddies; and everyone hates the mommies, but wait, wait – I didn’t intend to get into the pathos and thrill of being a Democratic Giants fan.
The reason I never give up hope is because everything is so basically hopeless.
The road to enlightenment is long and difficult, and you should try not to forget snacks and magazines.
The three things I cannot change are the past, the truth, and you.
The whistle is always waiting to be blown, and in some ways, it gets me to do better work.
The worst part about celebrating another birthday is the shock that you’re only as well as you are.
There is nothing as sweet as a comeback, when you are down and out, about to lose, and out of time.
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.
We all know we’re going to die; what’s important is the kind of men and women we are in the face of this.
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.
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 we did art with the kids, the demons would lie down.
When we’re dealing with the people in our family – no matter how annoying or gross they may be, no matter how self-inflicted their suffering may appear, no matter how afflicted they are with ignorance, prejudice or nose hairs – we give from the deepest parts of ourselves.
Writing takes a combination of sophistication and innocence; it takes conscience, our belief that something is beautiful because it is right.
You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.
You want to give me chocolate and flowers? That would be great. I love them both. I just don’t want them out of guilt, and I don’t want them if you’re not going to give them to all the people who helped mother our children.
Your experiences will be yours alone. But truth and best friendship will rarely if ever disappoint you.
Your problem is how you are going to spend this one odd and precious life you have been issued. Whether you’re going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over people and circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are.
Anger and hatred lead to fear; compassion and concern for others allow us to develop self-confidence, which breeds trust and friendship.Dalai Lama