Last I spoke with Ms. Annie we talked about loving Jesus, Keith Richards and Winnie the Pooh.  And she told me that yes, sigh, she’d wash Dick Cheney’s feet in Heaven.  (Cheney has been unavailable for comment thus far.)  Anne was kind enough to speak with me again about her new book, a slim wonder titled Help, Thanks, Wow, that features this line, the finest Christian writing I’ve read in a very long time:

“This is the message of the Book of Job: Any snappy explanation of suffering you come up with will be horseshit.”

Right now, today — what’s your Help, Thanks, Wow?

My alarm failed at 5:45 am and at 6:30 the driver was ringing my doorbell and I was in my Ethel Mertz jammies, and – made a cup of coffee, fed the animals, dressed, found Help, Thanks, Wow, got to car, started off.  Then driver didn’t have address of radio station an hour away and my internet is out but went home, back inside, found address, and now safely in car, with coffee, talking to you, and NO traffic.  So all three prayers swirling together– Help!  Thanks!  Wow.

I do not know much about God and prayer, but I have come to believe, over the past twenty-five years, that there’s something to be said about keeping prayer simple.

Help. Thanks. Wow.

You may in fact be wondering what I even mean when I use the word “prayer.” It’s certainly not what TV Christians mean. It’s not for display purposes, like plastic sushi or neon. Prayer is private, even when we pray with others. It is communication from the heart to that which surpasses understanding. Let’s say it is communication from one’s heart to God. Or if that is too triggering or ludicrous a concept for you, to the Good, the force that is beyond our comprehension but that in our pain or supplication or relief we don’t need to define or have proof of or any established contact with. Let’s say it is what the Greeks called the Really Real, what lies within us, beyond the scrim of our values, positions, convictions, and wounds. Or let’s say it is a cry from deep within to Life or Love, with capital L’s.

I get nervous sometimes.

Anne Lamott, she’s a big reason I write. A big influence for a lot of us. Bird by Bird? She wrote that.

I’ve got her phone number in my hand. The publicist said she’d just be getting off a plane. Flying sucks.

Theoretically, I should be good at interviews. I’ve got a Masters in Psych with quite a bit of experience in active listening and cross-examination.  Problem is, even though I’ve done tons of interviews by this point, whenever I talk to someone I really love, I turn into a thirteen-year old girl.

But maybe that’s what makes a good interviewer. Neil Strauss, the guy who wrote The Dirt and a most excellent book on the art of the interview, Everybody Loves You When You’re Dead, says you shouldn’t try to be so cool, to go with real emotion, lighten up and just connect as one flawed human to another. My old Rabbi friend says you should never waste a chance to show appreciation for the good things a person has sown into your life. Then, there’s a quote from Anne herself: Flounder as a spiritual act.

Man, I don’t know. Here goes.

(ringing…)