If some of you thought that this title sounds familiar - you're right. It's a switch-up of the title of my most favorite book of all time - Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies. It's my way to honor the part her words played in my own traveling tale.
I read Traveling Mercies many years ago now. There are some days when it feels like yesterday - for I can still feel the raw and vulnerable state of being that I lived in during that season every now and again. I was living in an emotionally unknown place. The ground was shaking underneath my feet and the old answers and anecdotes that had always worked were coming up short. I was well into a crisis of faith and belief (and truthfully as you'll read, I still live with one foot planted there). I didn't know where God ended and "church" began and the whole conversation surrounding that was murky and grey. I didn't particularly like the God I had been following. I wasn't buying some of the things I had been told about Him and the way He supposedly did His business. I was unsettled and confused. All of this led me and Mike to a transition I'll tell you more about as we go along.
Somewhere in the middle of this, I began to read Traveling Mercies. I wish I could remember who recommended it to me, for I'd owe them a debt of gratitude. What I do remember is lying in my bed, devouring her stories, re-reading her words, and feeling peace settle into my spirit after a very long absence. Anne is a story-teller, but she is a master wordsmith. She weaves her yarns with honesty and full-disclosure. Her irreverence makes you laugh with abandon, and she paints pictures and images of God that made me want to find Him again.
There were days I'd be reading and I'd pause after a paragraph and read it again, out loud. I loved the sound of her words on my tongue and the richness they encompassed. As I read those words out loud, I'd often weep. I'd stop for awhile and clutch the book to me, for it was as though healing was happening in very cold places that had felt dead for so long.
And so tonight I have decided to begin to tell some of my own "Merciful Traveling" stories. I have felt the tug for sometime, but wouldn't give in. And now I will. I don't know what they will sound like or look like - only that the place I am today is far removed and different than the place I've come from. Sometimes I don't know quite how I've arrived here, but here I stand, nonetheless.