I keep needing and wanting a definition for grace. Is it a quiet blanket that provides calm? Thrown over a situation it melts away the impurities, the untruths, the frenzy and leaves only goodness. Grace is a peacemaker. It slows a building of energy. It appreciates every one as a creature of God. It balances Godliness with freedom of choice. When freedom abounds, fast and furious, grace, like a warm fleece blanket, douses the flame a bit, protects the Godliness. Reminds us what we truly are.
Grace is quiet. Grace is confident. I think of Mom when Grandma Murphy died. I was frenzied. Mom wasn’t cooking! How had the system broken down? Mom always cooks! Then the food began to arrive. Neighbors, friends and family appeared at our door with plates and bowls of food. Not necessarily a call beforehand, no scramble to vacuum a floor or clean the table off. Quietly, calmly Mom accepted help. The thing is Mom knew before the knocks came to the door. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been talking with Mom about, “What are you up to today?” And she is making food for someone. The guys are in the field and need sandwiches. A neighbor is ill. A farm friend has died. A young mother has a very sick little boy. Mom has worked it out. Grace through caring for others. At least while eating, those families have a half hour of warmth from someone who cares, the pain is momentarily eased. Mom’s cooking is her gift. Mom’s appearance at a friend’s house with a meal is grace, a fleece blanket to help the situation seem more bearable. Mom has shown me the power of grace not only in giving it but, perhaps more importantly, in accepting it.
But what do I do with it? I pray for God’s grace that I in turn may be graceful, gracious, full of grace. It’s a beautiful word and I sometimes recognize grace when I see it, but I have a hard time conjuring it up. Perhaps that’s the problem. Perhaps grace is a slow simmering pot of delicious stew, melding all the flavors together. And after stewing for a couple hours, the bubbles pop emitting not the smell of ingredients, but the smell of stew. It’s a culmination of events that produce grace, but yet, it’s not produced. Grace just happens.
But how to deal with it? Emitting grace is more imaginable, easier perhaps, than accepting grace. In our lives, busy and full, grace seems more elusive. However, in every day, there are tiny but great moments of grace. Sadly, our society misses many of these because we’re self-absorbed in the to-dos, should-dos and really need-to-dos. As a parent, some moments, thankfully, hit me in the face. A scream from the living room, “Mom!!” A frenzied return from the kitchen, “What?” A reply, “I love you!” “…Oh.” Like being tapped by the wing of an angel. A gift of grace. And if I dry my hands in the kitchen and go to the living room and hug my cherub, that’s accepting grace.
This brings me back to my biggest quandary: recognizing and accepting that more subtle grace as it moves about daily. How? First the world needs to spin a bit slower so that I can “see” grace when it happens. If only grace traveled as a recognizable fleece blanket, neatly folded, I could keep my eye on it. Then when I see it expand and cover something, that would be my “aha” moment. Assuming it’s spotted, and, oh dear God, it’s going to land on me. Do I want to be covered? Shall I run? Why? What will I do when it lands? Frenzy. I close my eyes. I plant my feet. I am quiet. I feel the tap of an angel wing. It’s beautiful, heavenly. And all I can return is a whisper. “Thank you.”