Sunday Morning (Wake-Up Call)

When the breakfast is finished, people gather in a large, loose circle around Charlie, wanting a moment of his attention before they go, wanting to make sure he knows they came. After all, he serves these people as well. He hugs them in the same way he hugged Ron and Sid, with gladness and acceptance. You are four days sober and I love you. You’re about to get in your BMW and I love you. You are not my problem to solve but my brother to love, all of you. We want to get close so we can convince ourselves that he is made of some rare and superior material that hasn’t been given to us, but it isn’t true. Calling him a saint is just a way of letting ourselves off the hook. After riding around with Charlie, I find it shocking to realize how simple it would be to see myself as a worthless servant, to find joy in the service of others, to open my heart and let it remain open to everyone, everyone, all the time. The trick is in the decision to wake up every morning and meet the world again with love.

Ann Patchett, from “My Year of No Shopping” in “These Precious Days: Essays” (Harper, November 23, 2021)


Photo: Ann Patchett, author of “These Precious Days,” with her dog Sparky, who’s one of the shop dogs at her bookstore, Parnassus. (Heidi Ross)

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