The writer's job is to turn the unspeakable into words - not just any words, but, if you can, into rhythm and blues.

Who was it who said that forgiveness is giving up all hope of having had a different past?

Maybe it's because music is about as physical as it gets: your essential rhythm is your heartbeat; your essential sound, your breath. We're walking temples of noise, and when you add tender hearts to this mix, it somehow lets us meet in places we couldn't get to any other way.

I am going to try to pay attention to the spring. I am going to look around at all the flowers, and look up at the hectic trees. I am going to close my eyes and listen.

Lighthouses don't go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.

I was the angriest daughter on earth, and also, one of the most devoted.

I like the desert for short periods of time, from inside a car, with the windows rolled up, and the doors locked. I prefer beach resorts with room service.

Like the Buddha and Jesus, who knew they couldn't control our lives, but could infuse lives with their selves, we have been graced with a few people.

I cry intermittently, like a summer rain. I don't feel racked by the crying; in fact, it hydrates me. Then rage wells up in me, and I want to take a crowbar to all the cars in the neighborhood.

Rule 1: When all else fails, follow instructions. And Rule 2: Don't be an asshole.

Writer's block is going to happen to you. You will read what little you've written lately and see with absolute clarity that it is total dog shit.

How alive am I willing to be?

A friend of mine says that the first draft is the down draft—you just get it down. The second draft is the up draft—you fix it up. You try to say what you have to say more accurately. And the third draft is the dental draft, where you check every tooth, to see if it's loose or cramped or decayed, or even, God help us, healthy.

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.

She lived in fear of ifonic endings.

Start with your childhood, I tell them. Plug your nose and jump in, and write down all your memories as truthfully as you can.

She quoted the Reverend James Forbes as saying, Nobody gets into heaven without a letter of reference from the poor.

Then the singing enveloped me. It was furry and resonant, coming from everyone's very heart. There was no sense of performance or judgment, only that the music was breath and food.

This is where I liked to be when I was hangover or coming down off a cocaine binge, here in the dust with all these dusty people, all this liveliness and clutter and color, things for sale to cheer me up, and greasy food that would slip down by throat.

I went to Goucher College in Maryland for the best possible reasons - to learn - but then I dropped out at 19 for the best possible reasons - to become a writer.

Every time we choose the good action or response, the decent, the valuable, it builds, incrementally, to renewal, resurrection, the place of newness, freedom, justice.

The movement of grace toward gratitude brings us from the package of self-obsessed madness to a spiritual awakening. Gratitude is peace.

What if we gave fifty percent of our discretionary budget to the world's poor and then counted on the moral power of that action to protect us?

Becoming a writer is about becoming conscious.

E-books are great for instant gratification - you see a review somewhere of a book that interests you, and you can start reading it five minutes later.

Without using the word, everyone started forgiving each other again. Just like that, from the no of all nothingness: you have a big tense mess and out of it comes some joy. It must be magic.

What can we say beyond Wow, in the presence of glorious art, in music so magnificent that it can't have originated solely on this side of things? Wonder takes our breath away, and makes room for new breath.

Everything slows down when we listen and stop trying to fix the unfixable.

I let my mind wander.

The opposite of faith is not doubt, it's certainty.

I'm drawn to almost any piece of writing with the words 'divine love' and 'impeachment' in the first sentence. But I know the word 'divine' makes many progressive people run screaming for their cute little lives, and so one hesitates to use it.

This is one thing they forget to mention in most child-rearing books, that at times you will just lose your mind. Period.

Thanks' is a huge mind-shift, from thinking that God wants our happy chatter and a public demonstration and is deeply interested in our opinions of the people we hate, to feeling quiet gratitude, humbly and amazingly, without shame at having been so blessed.

The difference between you and God is that God doesn't think He's you.

And because she did not shove this down my throat, this dawned on me.

It feels like I'm babysitting in the Twilight Zone. I keep waiting for the parents to show up because we are out of chips and diet cokes.

You don't even have to know how or in what way, but if you are writing the clearest, truest words you can find and doing the best you can to understand and communicate, this will shine on paper like its own little lighthouse. Lighthouses don't go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.

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.

Grace arrived, like the big, loopy stitches with which a grandmotherly stranger might baste your hem temporarily.

I do believe that God is with us even when we're at our craziest and that this goodness guides, provides, and protects.

Having a baby is like suddenly getting the world's worst roommate.

Once you know where true is, it defines everything else that has to happen.

Almost every single thing you hope publication will do for you is a fantasy, a hologram--it's the eagle on your credit card that only seems to soar.

So Rita and I decided that the most subversive, revolutionary thing I could do was to show up for my life and not be ashamed.

Some people seem to understand this - that life and change take time - but I am not one of those people.

I'll live as well, as deeply, as madly as I can--until I die.

Do it every day for a while, my father kept saying. Do it as you would do scales on the piano. Do it by prearrangement with yourself. Do it as a debt of honor. And make a commitment to finishing things.

It turns out that welcome is solidarity. We're glad you're here, and we're with you. This whole project called you being alive, you finding joy? Well, we're in on that.

The search for meaning will fill you with a sense of meaning. Otherwise.