Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott is a funny book if you can put up with some language and an enormous amount of liberal concepts. If you can get past that and focus on the Christian experience the author shares, along with good writing and great humor, then you will enjoy this book.
A single mom and a recovering alcoholic, Lamott makes a living as a writer of mostly nonfiction, memoiristic books. The introductory chapter to this book will give you her conversion story which can be summed up in the following: she was an alcoholic and a drug user, then she met Jesus, and then she quit. But see, I just made it boring. She makes it fun over several pages and you get to sense the heart of God through this process, the incredible love of the Creator for Anne Lamott, working her over and over until she finally surrendered.
She is still what we would call a liberal Christian, i.e. she is pro-choice and admits to having had an abortion in the book. In fact, years later, she almost had a second abortion. After talking to a minister, who told her to pray and imagine that she had the abortion and if she had peace in her heart, she should go ahead and do the abortion, she decided against this second abortion. During her prayer, she had absolutely no peace about it, so she had Sam, her son, who is then present throughout the book and turns out to be a terrific kid who blesses her life daily.
Lamott will tell you story after story of her friends who struggle with AIDS, terminal diseases, parenting issues, and other issues. She herself has had to deal with a “funky blood” diagnosis on Sam. I won’t tell you how that one ends. Then she looks a hard look at her own bulimia and how she got out of that hole by learning how to eat all over again.
Her chapters on dealing with the death of her father and the aging process of her mother are poignant. They make you want to look at your own life and relationships and redefine values and boundaries.
I ordered this book before we traveled to Romania. I forget how I even ran into this book. I just know I was extremely scared of flying right after the Brussels terrorist attacks and needed a book with a title like “traveling mercies.” It turns out it is not a travel book per se. The title refers to traveling through life under the banner of the Lion of Judah.
Lamott is not afraid to tell you her true feelings, including when she felt like physically hurting someone and how she got over that. I am glad she has a great church family and that she takes her son to church. And I am glad she keeps it real with Jesus and with herself.