I recently missed a carpool, and instead, drove alone. But I never felt alone. Plan B included listening to Anne Lamott's Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith. And she is an excellent traveling companion. Lamott, full of faith and humor hooked me in with her crazy, grace-filled life and I couldn't stop listening. It's a bummer that I missed socializing with my group. But, driving with Anne Lamott narrating Plan B made the trip worthwhile.
Lamott is at her best when she weaves witty stories of her progressive Christian faith with her family dysfunction. Especially the stories focusing on the hormonal roller coaster that is parenting a thirteen year old while Lamott herself is entering menopause. Here's my favorite passage from the essay "Adolescence":
"What would he have done with thirteen-year-olds?" I asked [Father] Tom.
"In biblical times, they used to stone a few thirteen-year-olds with some regularity, which helped keep the others quiet and at home. The mothers were usually in the first row of stone throwers, and had to be restrained..."
...I thought of Tom, and wanted to ask, "What on earth did Mary do when Jesus was thirteen?"
Here's what I think: She occasionally started gathering rocks.
If we take the incarnation seriously, then even good old Jesus was thirteen once, a human thirteen-year-old. He learned by doing, as we have to. He had to go through adolescence. It must have been awful sometimes. Do you know anyone for whom adolescence was consistently okay? But in his case, we don't know for sure. We see him earlier, in the Bible, at twelve, when he's speaking to the elders in the Temple. He's great with the elders, just as [my son] is always fabulous with other grown-ups. They can't believe he's such an easygoing kid, with such good manners. In the Temple, Jesus says things so profound that the elders are amazed. "Who's this kid’s teacher?" they wonder. They don't know that Jesus’' teacher was the Spirit.
But at the same time he's blowing the elders away, how is Jesus treating his parents? I'll tell you: He's making them crazy. He’s ditched them. They can't find him for three days. Some of you know what it's like to not find your kid for three hours. You die. Mary and Joseph have looked everywhere, in the market, at the video arcade. Finally they find him, in the last place they thought to look--the Temple. And immediately, he mouths off: Oh, sorry, sorry, I was busy doing all this other stuff, my father's work. Like, Joseph, you're not my real father--you're not the boss of me. I don't even have to listen to you.
And what is Mary doing this whole time?
Mary's got a rock in her hand.
Throughout, Lamott gracefully balances the fine line between irreverent and devout. She gets us giggling—if you think parenting a mere mortal is difficult, imagine how hard it is to parent the Son of God!—while reminding us that some days believing in the power of love is all we need.