Hallelujah Anyway Is Merciful Read
By Kate Rainey
If you need a break from the polarized news and are searching for some mercy in your life,pick up a copy of Anne Lamott’s latest collection of essays “Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy” (Riverhead Books, 192 pages, $20). This book shows us there is a quieter world, one that is full of wonder, appreciation and generosity. Life is not about getting and achieving more.
Ms. Lamott, who teaches Sunday School at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in California, questions if she even recognizes mercy anymore, “the divine and human; the messy, crippled, transforming, heartbreaking, lovely, devastating presence of mercy.” She believes she, and our world, are starving to death for it.
“Mercy is radical kindness. Mercy means offering or being offered aid in desperate straits. Mercy is not deserved. It involves absolving the unabsolvable, forgiving the unforgivable. Mercy brings us to the miracle of apology, given and accepted, to unashamed humility when we have erred or forgotten. Charge it to our heads and not our hearts, as the elders in black church have long said.”
The title of the book is derived from Candi Staton’s gospel song “Hallelujah Anyway.” In spite of our problems, personal or political, the lyrics say “you get down on your knees and pray . . . Praise Him till your situation turns around. You gotta lift up your voice and say: Hallelujah Anyway!”
As in Ms. Lamott’s nine other works of nonfiction, she is vulnerable, makes you laugh out loud and want to sit down and have a cup of coffee with her. What I learned, once again, from this easy read is lack of grace and mercy starts with me. When I do the inside work of being softer with myself, then I don’t have to “condemn others for being total sh__s, although they may be that. (Okay: are).”
Ms. Rainey is a resident of Middletown Township in Delaware County, Pa.