I have been enamored by Grace, especially the Grace of the Holy One, ever since, by Grace, I fell into a deep understanding of what it was and what it wasn’t when I was in school. I have practiced it, named it, watched for it, featured it in the decorations on my wall. But some how it, its power and presence slips from my awareness with great frequency, and I relapse into the ways of being that are not grace-filled–anxiety, judgement and indifference.
Then, in a synergistic way I was reminded of Grace and how important it is to my faithfulness and well-being to savor it and to practice it. In a gathering of friends, I was reminded of a seminal sacred text that assured me that the Grace of the Holy One was sufficient for all the bumps, hurts and slights, even the the traumas and the anticipated anxious events coming up. Furthermore, the text reminded me that God becomes evident in the places and time where people feel inadequate, broken, even getting old.
As if to illustrate the truth of Grace, I remembered the way that Grace had threaded its way in that gathering. We have known each other for decades, and have encountered times of hilarity, times of deep learning, times of cheering each other up, times of grieving, and even times of rupture in our loving one another. Yet here we were, all these years later, basking in the aura of the Grace that had illuminated, that had healed, that had forgiven, that had empowered us to continue to be in each others’ presence with energy, imagination and love. Wonderful food and drink were shared, music played, gifts exchanged, memories replayed, and challenges offered. It was a gift of Grace!
As I wended my way home, I mused on the ways and reasons I let Grace slip from my view. It begins when I forget to breathe–deeply, intentionally and wholly. It is exacerbated when my senses get clogged with an overload of sensation, commentary and pontification from the nearby sources surrounding me in print, on-line, on the air waves, or conversation. It sidles away when I rush to evaluate, assess or judge. It evaporates when my memory fails me by popping up with all the wrongs, hurts, grievances and failures, when I forget that it is “Grace that has brought me safe this far,” and is the Truth that is leading me home. And I fail to live in Grace in an epic way when I do not extend Grace to my “neighbor,” anyone who comes into my consciousness, near or far.
Choreographer Ronald K. Brown of the Alvin Ailey Dance Company in New York was asked,”What comes after Grace?” His answer was “Mercy.” He was referring to his dance compositions, but I am convinced that it is also true about living: when Grace is extended to me, in gratitude I am called to extend Grace in Mercy to those I encounter. That Grace may not be well received, or may be ignored, or may be too little too late, as it can be offered in weakness. Yet it is the song by which I want to live, and right now I am feeling the hum of the reminder to be more aware of Grace proliferates itself in my life. I wonder how Mary. mother of Jesus did it; I get only glimpses, but she did it!
One of my spiritual teachers, Ann Lamott, reminds me that “In the long haul, Grace will win out over everything, over the misery, the stupidity, the dishonesty” even my own. I am letting Grace keep leading me home!