26 Dec 2011
I was listening to NPR on Christmas Eve as they broadcast the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College in Cambridge, UK. At the end of the event the announcer said, “And now the participants will leave this moment of grace and return to the real world.”
This made me think. Do we only experience moments of grace in orchestrated circumstances? For me, the real moments of grace come from being in the real world.
I love the idea of grace. To me it’s a feeling…like a warm blanket, wrapping me in love and kindness. And while I’ve always thought of grace as being an important part of my being, I can’t say that I’ve ever tried to define it.
So, I decided to check out the definition of grace. There were several:
– merited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification – a virtue coming from God
– a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace
– a suppleness of movement or bearing
– used as a title of address or reference
The last 2 don’t really speak to me, although the idea of having someone address me on occasion as “Your Grace” could be entertaining!
So, where do we find “merited divine assistance”? How do we enjoy a “divine state of sanctification” when there is work to do, schedules to maintain, children to raise, relationships to work on?
When I think of what it means to live with grace in this world, I believe it all comes down to this question:
What is this experience asking of me?
To live with grace means that we understand that everything in our lives has a reason. All the people, experiences, events are given to us so that we can learn and grow and understand the world and our place in it, even though we may not understand it – or like it – while it’s happening.
My friend, Karen, embodies this. She is 41 and has ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). I met her in a class at church in 2002 just after an accident in which her 3-year-old son was killed. She was devastated, but faith kept her moving forward, knowing that God had a bigger plan. Karen’s diagnosis of ALS has been equally devastating in other ways. It is slowly robbing her of her ability to do anything for herself, but she radiates grace and strength and faith in the face of the progression of her illness.
Karen looks at each new day for the gift that it is and speaks to all of us in her writing about her faith and knowing…knowing that one day it will all be clear.
In my search for a definition of grace, I found an article on that appeared in Ode Magazine which said:
Grace accepts. It does not judge but allows. It allows because it does not fear or try to prevent the natural flow of life. It accepts that life is just life and doesn’t always make sense in the moment.
When we are graceful, we allow life to just be, and tend to feel happier because we are not fighting with our lives. We can relax and assume that everything will be made clear at the right time. We see that something going “wrong” is not indicative of our unworthy nature.
So the job that isn’t fulfilling is asking something of you. And the marriage that feels unsatisfying is asking something of you. And the illness is asking something of you. And the feeling of accomplishment over mastering something new task is asking something of you.
All of life is asking something of us.
And when we live with grace, we live into the answers that get presented from simply living our lives.