Help, Thanks, Wow

Now, it gets heavy — but it’s Thanksgiving, when we do that…


Day to day, I am not an overtly religious person — certainly nothing like “traditional”. On the other hand, I studied with a Reform rabbi and became a Jew after years as an atheist; a Jew in the style of Einstein, who I just lately learned was a Jew in style of Spinoza.

I maintain a very low tolerance for superstition in all of its forms (emspar and I call it “booga-booga”), but I also wouldn’t have taken the course I did, or be who I am, were it not for the inescapable fact that there is Some Thing Bigger Out There. It’s called the Universe. It has no direct relation to, or influence on, us — nevertheless (weak anthropic principle) we happen to live in it, trying to make sense of how it works.

How the Universe works — the Laws of Physics, melech ha’olam — is what Einstein called God, and so do I.

So… listening as I always do to NPR’s Morning Edition, I heard an interview with Anne Lamott, the author of a book about prayer, Help, Thanks, Wow. No need to listen to the full segment: the printed excerpts are good enough. Simplistic, surely — but that’s the point.

God, or Nature, or “Shit Happens”… Formal prayer, or wordless exclamation at the shit happening… What we say, if only silently, boils down to those three, especially when we take the sectarian language out and just blurt. I found the idea early in my Judaic studies; I cannot think of a religious tradition that wouldn’t arrive at the same conclusion.

You don’t lose any atheist cred for exclaiming, either. Shit happens; you react: human nature.


It’s Thanksgiving — in the face of all the shit, why am I still thankful? Most of all for emspar, naturally, but also for you all.

And why am I still “Wow”?

I’m alive; I can see the night sky; I know what’s in it.

Baruch ata, Adonai Elohenu, melech ha’olam, schehechianu, v’kiamanu, v’higianu, l’azman hah zeh.


10 responses to “Help, Thanks, Wow

  1. Church of the Flying Spaghettin Monster perchance? Actually, these days I’m leaning more toward intelligent design. But I don’t know who or what the designer is or whether he/she/it still cares about what he/she/it designed.

  2. Lalo,

    I’ve been a practicing Wiccan since 1990 or so and the way I look at it, everyone believes in the same thing, we just celebrate it in different ways, call it different names. It’s either nirvana, heaven, the happy hunting grounds… everyone wants to make it there eventually. Whatever you call it, it’s the same thing we’re all thinking about.

    I’ve been thinking about you a lot recently. I’ve been fighting my Stage IV mess for 6.5 years now. I somehow feel guilty that I’ve existed this long. It seems I’ve dragged it out too long. But I have a family and feel that I’ve somehow had the willpower to last longer for them.

    But you have friends here on the outside that think of you as family. I certainly do. Keep fighting, Lalo. I’ll send some positive vibes your way.

  3. Lalo couldn’t have penned a more fitting valedictory had he tried. And I know he would have. Thanksgiving Day was his last good outing. He insisted on driving despite the pain medicinal/recreational weed could no longer keep at bay. I knew it would be our last ride–until I drove him to the hospital 5 days later. After staying by his side for an additional 48 hours, I left Saturday noon at his request. He went to bed. I sobbed for the 45 minutes it took to get home. Telling: Like It Is is the only chronicle Lalo left about his dying. He discussed it with you, his dearest friends, in his quiet, deep, erudite way. This WAS Lalo’s valedictory. I never told him good-bye, but that I would be with him forever. So are all of us.

  4. I’m surprised to see this post after all this time but it’s nice. Some of the comments Crap Mariner made about Lalo after his passing will remain with me forever. They are hilarious and probably shouldn’t be publically posted but they captured his spirit perfectly. I think Lalo would have appreciated them. My photos of us dancing and having fun in SL are treasures. :)

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