Most readers’ love for all things Anne Lamott started with her book, Traveling Mercies. She had me at the introduction.

Anne’s candor, sense of humor and humility are irresistible.

I am partial to people who exude hope.

Anne says, “Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.”

12 Favorite Quotes From Traveling Mercies

1. Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.

2. I don’t know why life isn’t constructed to be seamless and safe, why we make such glaring mistakes, things fall so short of our expectations, and our hearts get broken and out kids do scary things and our parents get old and don’t always remember to put pants on before they go out for a stroll. I don’t know why it’s not more like it is in the movies, why things don’t come out neatly and lessons can’t be learned when you’re in the mood for learning them, why love and grace often come in such motley packaging.

3. My fear of failure has been lifelong and deep. If you are what you do – and I think my parents may have accidentally given me this idea – and you do poorly, what then? It’s over; you’re wiped out. All those prophecies you heard in the dark have come true, and people can see the real you, see what a schmendrick you are, what a fraud.

4. The road to enlightenment is long and difficult, and you should try not to forget snacks and magazines.

5. It is unearned love–the love that goes before, that greets us on the way. It’s the help you receive when you have no bright ideas left, when you are empty and desperate and have discovered that your best thinking and most charming charm have failed you. Grace is the light or electricity or juice or breeze that takes you from that isolated place and puts you with others who are as startled and embarrassed and eventually grateful as you are to be there.

6. Most of the time, all you have is the moment, and the imperfect love of the people around you.

7. Music is about as physical as it gets: your essential rhythm is your heartbeat; your essential sound, the breath. We’re walking temples of noise, and when you add tender hearts to this mix, it somehow lets us meet in places we couldn’t get to any other way.

8. The thing about light is that it really isn’t yours; it’s what you gather and shine back. And it gets more power from reflectiveness; if you sit still and take it in, it fills your cup, and then you can give it off yourself.

9. It’s funny: I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools – friendships, prayer, conscience, honesty – and said ‘do the best you can with these, they will have to do’. And mostly, against all odds, they do.

10. Grief, as I read somewhere once, is a lazy Susan. One day it is heavy and underwater, and the next day it spins and stops at loud and rageful, and the next day at wounded keening, and the next day numbness, silence.

11. Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue.

12. This is the most profound spiritual truth I know: that even when we’re most sure that love can’t conquer all, it seems to anyway. It goes down into the rat hole with us, in the guise of our friends, and there it swells and comforts. It gives us second winds, third winds, hundredth winds.

Other Posts About Anne

12 Truths From Life And Writing

APPLICATION: What was your favorite Anne Lamott quote? Please leave your comment below. Thank you.


Hope grows here. I write to share stories that inspire people, build faith in Jesus, and offer lasting purpose. If this material is helpful to you, please follow me.

  • Subscribe. I’ll put helpful content into your email box early Mondays and Thursdays, as well as upcoming events at North Pointe Community Church, Edmonton, Alberta.
  • Follow on Twitter. I daily tweet info I think you’ll be interested in.
  • Friend on Facebook. If you “like” my page, let me know you found me here.
  • Connect on Linkedin. I like this because it reminds me what people think I’m good at.

Leave a Reply