Monday, January 20, 2014

Book Review: Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope, and Repair

In the follow up to her book, Help Thanks Wow, Anne Lamott delves into a discussion of healing. A loaded and unwieldy topic for anyone to tackle, let alone in less than 100 pages, but as usual, Lamott delivers wonderful stories and advice with grace and humor.

The book is divided into six chapters, each dealing with the ongoing metaphor of sewing.  The slim volume starts off with:

"We live stitch by stitch, when we're lucky. If you fixate on the big picture, the whole shebang, the overview, you miss the stitching. And maybe the stitching is crude, or it is unraveling, but if it were precise, we'd pretend that life was just fine and running like a Swiss watch. This is not helpful if on the inside our understanding is that life is more often a cuckoo clock with rusty gears."

It is sage advice and Lamott's usual kick in the teeth, but a kick that comes from a loving place. The book includes stories from her own life, intermixed with coping mechanisms for navigating what can be a cruel and unforgiving world, where school shootings have been regular occurrences and natural disasters happen the world over.

The author never claims to have all of the answers and includes how she can best give God advice, but She never takes it. One of my favorite phrases in the book is toward the end during a story about a friend fixing curtains and teachers who drew her out of her shell in school: "This is who I want to be in the world. This is who I think we are supposed to be, people who help call forth human beings from deep inside hopelessness."

And don't we all strive for that in some way? A friend receives terrible news and we offer soup, an ear or a stiff drink. There is beauty in helping, in repairing and in healing. Every disaster story includes the community coming together to help, to pitch in when spoons had completely been emptied. That's what we need to remember; by stitch by stitch, little by little, we come together to take that next breath and step, even when it seems utterly impossible.

Lamott delivers another treasured addition to her repertoire and much needed advice for this aching world in this latest volume of spry humor and loving words.

(Image Credit-Star Tribune)

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