I found myself in a very large gathering of people I had not seen for a long time. Each of them had a personal history and a history with me that was checkered and some of which included a great deal of brokenness and pain. While the main text of the gathering was going on, a deeper part of me was reliving and evaluating those narratives, listening to my own judgements and critiques of past events. Mercifully, (and I do mean that literally), as the day wore on, I began to relax into what Denise Levertov describes this way: into Creator Spirit’s deep embrace,/knowing that no effort earns/that all-surrounding grace. It wasn’t necessary for me to carry the darkness of the past: in Grace I could let go, and take delight in what Grace had brought into those stories that meant healing, freedom and redemption for everyone involved.
My journey has been revolutionized by coming to recognize Grace, and to continue to learn over the course of my years, “even into old age,” the depths and heights of that Grace. I seldom have had as graphic and audible an encounter as the one I just described, but Grace abounds in daily and dramatic of my life, if I am awake and taking delight in it. I think of this week alone–an accident averted, a garden in bud and about to bloom, the poetry of Lucy Shaw, cards and notes of friendship, acts of kindness by the clerk when I was confronted with automatic checkout at the grocery store. Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat in their wonderful book of reflection called Spiritual Rx call those things “gracelets” this signs of God’s presence that indeed feel like gifts.
I am half way through Lent now, remembering to take delight is becoming a little more intrinsic in my daily routine. However, training my senses to discover Grace is a little more challenging. The banner lines and news shouts emphasize “gotcha” moments, bleat out dire predictions, and revise history in a way that frightens, demoralizes and leads the ways to despair. So I need to be vigilant in seeking with grace-filled eyes where Grace is happening. As I sat down to compose this blog entry, a tiny article, clipped long ago by me, surfaced from under the stacks of paper on my desk. The author is Bryan Doyle, and it was included in The Best Spiritual Writing of 2001. Here is is:
First rule of grace: grace rules. Grace lifts, it brings to joy. And what, as we age, do we cherish and savor more than joy? Pleasure, power, fame, lust, money, they eventually lose their fastballs, or should. At our best and wisest we just want joy, and when we are filled with grace we see rich, thick joy in the simplest of things. Joy everywhere.
Notice how many saints–whom we assume were and are crammed to the eyeballs with grace–are celebrated for their childlike simplicity, their capacity to sense divine joy in everything: the daily resurrection of light, the dust of sparrows.
Grace indeed! I am delighted!