Anne Lamott posted this on Facebook today, in response to someone who asked, “What job would you want if you weren’t a writer?” She said she’d want to sit by the door of her church with bowls of M&Ms and cherries and the Communion elements.
She said many beautiful things, but here is the part that made me cry:
“If people were grieving,” she said, “I would sit with them while they cried, and I would not say a single word, like “Time heals all,” or “This too shall pass.” I would practice having the elegance of spirit to let them cry, and feel like shit, for as long a they need to, because tears are the way home–baptism, hydration–and I would let our shoulders touch, and every so often I’d point out something beautiful in the sky–a bird, clouds, the hint of a moon. Then we’d share some cherries and/or M&M’s, and go find a little kid who would let us swim in his or her inflatable pool. I’d tell the sad person, “Come back next week, I’ll be here–and you don’t have to feel ONE speck better. It’s a come-as-you-are meeting, like with God, who says, “You just show up, my honey.””
Steve and I been grieving for a few weeks now. It’s taken some effort to carve out the space we need, and to fend off all the truly horrible ideas out there about grief and comfort that fail to account for how different human beings can be. But this, from Anne, seems perfect: that she’d create a place where grieving people could go, if they wanted to. Not to process anything, or figure out what comes next, or – God help me, this last one makes me bananas – reconcile the awful thing that has happened with scripture by trying to suffocate it in Bible verses about God’s ever-perfect plan.
I’m not that into candy or cherries. But Anne’s words help me believe that if I showed up on her church doorstep with a family-sized bag of Lay’s potato chips, she would slide the other bowls under her chair, shove her hand in the bag, and munch right along with me. And that somehow we’d know that God was there, too.
Not that I’m ready to go to such a place, even if this were her job, or if her church were down the street instead of across the country. But I love the possibility. I think it’s the best description I’ve heard of how we can be God to each other when the world falls apart: Shut up. Be near. Eat comfort food. If you add a DVD marathon of some captivating TV drama like The West Wing or The Good Wife, I think we’d have a whole new model for what weekday church could be.
Something to think about. :)