Anne Lamott has earned a legion of fans with her trademark honesty, humor, and courage to speak openly about motherhood, addiction, and faith. On April 4, 2017, the bestselling novelist and essayist will publish her 10th non-fiction book, Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy—and RealSimple.com has an exclusive first look at the cover.
“Mercy is radical kindness,” Lamott writes in Hallelujah Anyway ($20, Riverhead Books). It’s the ability to forgive others (and yourself), to let go of debts, to not hold a grudge. And while that can be difficult to do, Lamott argues that finding the space in our hearts for mercy is crucial. “Kindness towards others, beginning with myself,” she writes, “buys us a shot at a warm and generous heart, the greatest prize of all.”
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RealSimple.com spoke with Lamott via email about the inspiration behind the book and the little blessings we can all find in our lives each day.
What inspired you to write this book?
Lamott: I started thinking about the presence of mercy in our lives, even as the world gets harsher and crazier and stranger. There is so much mercy around us and inside us, so much available to us if we have the eyes and intention to see it. I realized that just hearing the word “mercy” or “merciful” can turn my whole day around, and that other people experience this, too. So I began to write down some of my thoughts and experiences about it, and that was the beginning of this book.
Hallelujah Anyway has been described as a “book of hands-on spirituality.” What does that mean to you?
Lamott: Getting thirsty people water, even if that person is you. Getting people a nice cup of tea when they are overwhelmed. Staying silent and listening when people need or want to share something deep and important. Drawing people baths, or one for myself, with bubbles and Epsom salts. Giving money to good causes through the mail, Internet, or in front of Safeway or the health food store (even if I find their presence there annoying).
What is the meaning behind the title?
Lamott: It’s the title of a song we’ve sung at my church, St. Andrew. “Hallelujah Anyway” by Candi Staton is so wonderful: It’s raining, I’m broke, my kid is mad at me, but Hallelujah ANYWAY. Life is such a privilege, such a gift and a blessing, Nature is so heartbreakingly, life-givingly beautiful, my pets are so hilarious—and I just found a pack of M&M’s in my purse.
What do you hope readers will take away from Hallelujah Anyway?
Lamott: That there is hope. That to be instruments of mercy fills us up. That sharing love and passion heals us, and gives our lives cohesion, direction, and meaning. Everything makes sense if we keep it simple and make our day about giving and receiving mercy.
Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy will be released April 4, 2017 through Riverhead Books.