This Lent, on overload once again, I have chosen as my Lenten practice to notice and be grateful for the ways and times that Grace gets in and is enough for me to give thanks and bear the freight of the day. Certainly the world is giving us too much to bear it seems, when war has broken our with grim prognostications, the governmental systems are not only frayed but mired in standoffs, the environment has gone beyond groaning to wailing as it suffers, our institutions seem be coming apart at the seams, and the specter of COVID still looms over all.
So my attention has been pulled back to a favorite grounding text, in which the apostle Paul recounts his own misery, and then concludes that “God’s Grace is sufficient for me.” (2 Corinthians 12: 9).My intention this Lent is to look for, take note, savor and give thanks each day for the way the Grace has been sufficient. It has been more challenging than I imagined, not because the Grace is absent or hiding, but because my own perception, imagination and attentiveness are often underdeveloped. Nevertheless, in this first full week of Lent this is where Grace has appeared:
- a first rose has blossomed in my garden
- a Mother Hummingbird has reoccupied a nest tucked up under the eaves, and tends her eggs vigilantly
- a grandchild moved into real adolescence, with a good bill of health and much joie de vivre
- plans changed on a dime, and Spirit brought to me a peaceable flexibility and welcome
- my prayer for deep listening and patience to understand another’s point of view were delivered when I needed them
- a loved one came though a surgery with ease
- a Zoom gathering brought celebration and laughter across both Pacific and Atlantic Ocean
- my imagination was sparked as I filled bags of books for those who need them, while letting go of things which once gave me joy and I no longer need
My list could go on for ages. And I was reminded by so many Wise Ones of the ways that my faith continues to hold me in the arms of the Holy One of Grace, whose love never ceases, as I am taught how to love with Grace. Professor Kate Bowler brought me this reminder in her new book Good Enough with Jessica Richie; she quotes Thomas Merton here:
To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us–and he has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes the difference.Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude
I am choosing to notice, to name, to savor Grace this Lent–and to be grateful!