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Deliberate act of kindness- Bonded by good books, faith, parenting, and controversial Anne Lamott

On Friday, two friends from my Faith and Culture Writers Connection at Rolling Hills met me at McMenamins southeast Portland Bagdad Theater to see author Anne Lamott. I appreciate Anne’s thoughts on faith, culture and writing, though I do not always agree with everything she writes nor her politics. She is a literary author who is very vulnerable in her story telling, which I appreciate.

When we arrived at the Powell’s Books sponsored event, it was sold out. This  surprised me as the listing noted that tickets were available at the door the day of the event.

I guess we learned our lesson. The line was so long and it was clear we were not going to get a ticket from the few people who were selling tickets after deciding not to go after all.

We decided to go eat at the McMenamin’s and make the most of the evening, despite our disappointment. I’m always  up for good food and drink and company.

While mulling over the menu, we began sharing parts of our stories, and as the food and drinks arrived, our conversations got deeper and our stories longer, with a word or two added  about regretting not getting tickets in advance for the popular  Anne Lamott is popular

An hour and a half into the evening, a group of four women came and sat near us. It was obvious they had just come in from the Anne Lamott event as they were holding their books, part of the bonus you received for buying tickets to the event. Her book, Imperfect birds, was just released in paperback. After the four women sat down, one came over to  ask if they could borrow the empty chair at our table. “Sure,” my friend Bethany  said, adding jokingly, “but it will cost you—a copy of Anne Lamott’s new book.”

We are not sure they heard Bethany’s comment but it forged a bit of a bond between us: our shared interest in the literary, controversial, well read, thought provoking,  believing Anne Lamott. Though I disagree with Lamott on many areas of life, I can appreciate her common sense, her humor, her vulnerability and some of her Thoughts on Faith (the title of one of her books).

A little while later when I got up to use the rest room, I stopped by the table where these four ladies were gathered, and made small talk.

 “So, how was the talk tonight?” I asked, and added, “Did she get into politics and Bush-bashing?” “Where’d you all come from?”

The ladies had driven up from Eugene and were part of a church together. They said that Anne was all over the map when it came to her talk and this time she went after the tea-party members. But, where these women focused was  on Anne’s words regarding today’s parenting style, specifically the lament that parents want to be their kids best friend rather than a parent. Kids don’t need another best friend, Anne said, “They need a parent.”

 Anne’s new  book, Imperfect Birds, a work of fiction with autobiographical overtones, highlights this theme.

I piped in right away and agreed with Lamott’s wisdom. I mentioned that I have five kids and have been writing about parenting and family issues in a column and blog for some time now, and feel that today’s moms and dads need to step it up a notch. Be the parent kids need.

After sharing back and forth a bit, one of the ladies looked at me and said, “Here, you can have my copy of Anne’s new book,” as she handed me Lamott’s new book—“We have three other books amongst us.”

 I did not know what to say. I was humbled by this very kind act. A deliberate act of kindness toward someone she just met.

Wow, bonded even more. By enjoyment of WORDS and common sense approach to parenting and life and faith.

I told them I am also a writer and I would write about meeting these four Anne Lamott fans, who shared a bond of faith in the Eugene area.

And, the friends I came with said to me,  “How did you just do that, get a copy of Anne Lamott’s book?”  I was not sure why the ladies offered it to me. There are some things in life you just feel are gifts from God.

And, even a situation that begins in disappointment (like not getting in to see a speaker we were looking forward to hearing) can turn into an adventure and good conversation and meeting new friends – all of it, part of a God moment– which ended at Powell’s Books across the street from the Bagdad, where we browsed like kids in a candy store! A perfect evening indeed after all.

Posted in Author/Speaking Events, Authors, Children, Faith, Faith. Culture. The Arts Connection, Gratitude, Kids, Life, Live the Questions, Moms, Parenting, Writing.


7 Responses

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  1. pongboy says

    Sometimes God gives us what we NEED, not necessarily what we want. That night, we wanted Anne Lamott. But He gave us each other… and a free book. :) It was a blessing!

  2. Tiina M says

    I am very sorry to read that you were not able to get a ticket but I very much enjoyed you post about how the evening went. I agree with you that though Anne Lammott may be controversial in some of her opinions I too love her voice. Her writing truly is as you say, beautifully “vulnerable”. She is raw and connects through experience and emotion- both very persuasive qualities.
    Though I am not a mother, I also agree with you and Anne Lammott about parenting. I love my own parents dearly and they are two of my most precious and trusted friends but first and foremost they are my highly respected and beloved parents.
    I think that is very important. I like how you mentioned to the ladies that you are also a mother. I think that is a wonderful connecting point and gives you more credibility to share your opinion among strangers.
    Blessings on you and your writing and mothering endeavours.

  3. cathie says

    Loved this, and makes me curious to read her books! I think I will have the same assessment as you!

  4. Cornelia Seigneur says

    Hi Mark- we’d love to have you any time at Rolling Hills – keeping in touch on faith/culture/the arts- cornelia

  5. Mark McIntire says

    Terrific story, Cornelia. I wanted to drive up from Salem for the Lamott event. I am also hoping to come to Rolling Hills one of these days for your writer’s workshops. My reading always includes people outside of my comfort bubble. This helps keep our gospel work on-point, I believe. Thanks for what you do.
    Mark

  6. Cornelia Seigneur says

    Hi Bethany- you are too kind! It was one of those fun, adventurous evenings and so glad to have spent it with my new friend – enjoy those books and let me know what you think.

  7. Bethany Jackson says

    Isnt it WONDERFUL when we follow our hearts and God richly blesses us for it!! As I sat there talking with our friend, I looked over at Cornelia and saw that she was deep in conversation with total strangers!! I sat there grinning, as this was no surprise to me. In the short time I have known my new dear friend, I chuckle at the quick way she makes friends. I am happy that you got the book!! I am still smiling….now off to read one of the books you helped me find :-)



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