Traveling mercies, my friend.


I went backwoods camping recently with my three life-long friends, known affectionately as the Who-ha’s… a knockoff name derived from The Divine Secrets of the Yaya Sisterhood. Armed with the strength of a sisterly bond, the fierceness and determination of the female species, and the love of Yahweh, we trekked on to our next great adventure. We tend to welcome the outdoor adventures that require a certain sense of survival sweetly mixed with the desire to sleep among the stars, sunsets, and sunrises. Our first major endeavor some years ago was a 3 week road trip across the greater United States that took us nearly into Canada… we camped, we feasted over the campfire, we visited old friends, we took pictures, we sang hymns, we laughed, we drove, we quoted Thoreau, we prayed, we conversed, we star-gazed, we hiked, we met new friends, we sweated, we danced. This past weekend lacked nothing as we reunited to repeat these things once more… picking up where we had last left off. What a rich life. Our time together got me thinking…

I’ve been savoring my reading of Anne Lamott as of late. The San Francisco Chronicle writes: “Anne Lamott is walking proof that a person can be both reverent and irreverent in the same lifetime. Sometimes even in the same breath.” Lamott is irreverent, but she writes about grace as if it is desperately needed, as if it is her salvation. She can write like this because she has a codependency on Christ that leaves you realizing that Christ is literally her Savior through such personal grace that only she can know. She’s been through it all and back. She is endearing with her funny stories, crude language at times, fervid political beliefs, and her dreadlocks. She is ruthlessly honest in her pursuit of both life and grace. I love her writing; I see more grace in it than in many religious writings, excluding the Holy Bible, of course. In her book, Traveling Mercies, Lamott explains that she derived the title from her pastor, the Reverend Veronica Goines and her congregation who wish other members traveling mercies when they are about to depart on a journey away from the congregation. “Traveling mercies: love the journey, God is with you, come home safe and sound.” These are the sentiments that they wish each other; this reminds me a lot of the Who-ha’s, our individual and collective journeys, and the traveling mercies that have followed us through the years.

Later, Lamott writes about Bee, an old friend who had weathered the years and was close to her last breath. Anne sat with her during this sacred time, held her hand, and whispered something so profound as her old friend was slipping away to Glory: traveling mercies. So that’s what I wish to say to you today: Love your journey, know God is with you, come home safe and sound. Traveling mercies to you, my friend.

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