The earth is rocky and full of roots; it's clay, and it seems doomed and polluted, but you dig little holes for the ugly shriveled bulbs, throw in a handful of poppy seeds, and cover it all over, and you know you'll never see it again - it's death and clay and shrivel, and your hands are nicked from the rocks, your nails black with soil.
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.
Sometimes I think God loves the ones who most desperately ache and are most desperately lost - his or her wildest, most messed-up children - the way you'd ache and love a screwed-up rebel daughter in juvenile hall.
We're often ashamed of asking for so much help because it seems selfish or petty or narcissistic, but I think, if there's a God - and I believe there is - that God is there to help. That's what God's job is.
Most of me was glad when my mother died. She was a handful, but not in a cute, festive way. More in a life-threatening way, that had caused me a long time ago to give up all hope of ever feeling good about having had her as a mother.
Most marriages are a mess, and the children get caught between two bitter, antagonistic parents. My parents stayed married for 27 unhappy years, till their kids were grown, and this was a catastrophe for us.
My parents, and librarians along the way, taught me about the space between words; about the margins, where so many juicy moments of life and spirit and friendship could be found. In a library, you could find miracles and truth and you might find something that would make you laugh so hard that you get shushed, in the friendliest way.
I love readings and my readers, but the din of voices of the audience gives me stage fright, and the din of voices inside whisper that I am a fraud, and that the jig is up. Surely someone will rise up from the audience and say out loud that not only am I not funny and helpful, but I'm annoying, and a phony.
When we're dealing with the people in our family - no matter how annoying or gross they may be, no matter how self-inflicted their suffering may appear, no matter how afflicted they are with ignorance, prejudice or nose hairs - we give from the deepest parts of ourselves.
My coming to faith did not start with a leap but rather a series of staggers from what seemed like one safe place to another. Like lily pads, round and green, these places summoned and then held me up while I grew. Each prepared me for the next leaf on which I would land, and in this way I moved across the swamp of doubt and fear.
If you don't die of thirst, there are blessings in the desert. You can be pulled into limitlessness, which we all yearn for, or you can do the beauty of minutiae, the scrimshaw of tiny and precise. The sky is your ocean, and the crystal silence will uplift you like great gospel music, or Neil Young.
I did not raise my son, Sam, to celebrate Mother's Day. I didn't want him to feel some obligation to buy me pricey lunches or flowers, some annual display of gratitude that you have to grit your teeth and endure.
We can't understand when we're pregnant, or when our siblings are expecting, how profound it is to have a shared history with a younger generation: blood, genes, humor. It means we were actually here, on Earth, for a time - like the Egyptians with their pyramids, only with children.
Your problem is how you are going to spend this one odd and precious life you have been issued. Whether you're going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over people and circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are.
A whole lot of us believers, of all different religions, are ready to turn back the tide of madness by walking together, in both the dark and the light - in other words, through life - registering voters as we go, and keeping the faith.
Bananas are great, as I believe them to be the only known cure for existential dread. Also, Mother Teresa said that in India, a woman dying in the street will share her banana with anyone who needs it, whereas in America, people amass and hoard as many bananas as they can to sell for an exorbitant profit. So half of them go bad, anyway.
I am going to notice the lights of the earth, the sun and the moon and the stars, the lights of our candles as we march, the lights with which spring teases us, the light that is already present.
Nothing heals us like letting people know our scariest parts: When people listen to you cry and lament, and look at you with love, it's like they are holding the baby of you.
Being on a book tour is like being on the seesaw when you're a little kid. The excitement is in having someone to play with, and in rising up in the air, but then you're at the mercy of those holding you down, and if it's your older brother, or Paul Wolfowitz, they leap up, so that you crash down and get hurt.
I loved every second of Catholic church. I loved the sickly sweet rotting-pomegranate smells of the incense. I loved the overwrought altar, the birdbath of holy water, the votive candles; I loved that there was a poor box, the stations of the cross rendered in stained glass on the windows.