Bewildered in our timely dwelling place,
Where we arrive by work, we stay by grace. - Wendell Berry
How much grace can one receive? - Father Murray
Two of my favorite poets; thanks, boys. The question of grace, posed most eloquently by Father Murray and hinted at by Mr. Berry. I pondered the question this morning while driving to propose some work to a publisher. The backdrop for my commute was Josh Groban music and the Front Range of the Rockies, Pikes Peak style to be specific; two elements of grace in their own right. How much can one receive? To ask some would bring a reply of, "What grace? Not much in my life." That's fair. But I cannot answer that way. My reply would be, "Grace? How do I receive thee? Let me count the ways." Where do I begin?
I feel grace is like manna - enough for the day and then you begin again. So I'll begin with today. This meeting with a publisher I had is, on some level, the culmination of almost two years of writing and editing and editing and writing. I wished it would've happened sooner, but grace sometimes seems shy; like it needs to be wooed or something. Our meeting was good - lots of affirmation and encouragement and hope-full talk of today and tomorrow. I left with gratitude, thinking, "How much grace can one receive?"
About five minutes from home, my cell phone rang; it was my daughter. She had good news - euangelion! After months of trying and falling and scraping and skinning, she rode the length of our street on her bike. I had tried to help her for months, but to no avail. My wife held her seat once today, gave her a push, and whala! Truly, in the fullness of time. I got home and we proceeded out to the road, where I watched my little girl ride like she'd been doing it for years. The smile on her face was almost as big as mine. My family just stood there on the curb, with the hot Colorado wind in our faces, watching a blond on a bike doing figure eights and I thought, "How much grace can one receive?"
How much can one receive? I guess it depends on how open your hands are. Or your eyes and ears. It may even depend on how much you're willing to commit to something, e.g., work (Berry's quote above). Not that grace is a result of our efforts or work, but being able to receive grace is often times, in my experience, the result of stepping into a job or a marriage or a friendship. Or getting back up on the bike. Or writing yet another cheezy column for some low-paying gig. But you open yourself to it and it creates space; space for grace. Spaceum et graceum or whateverthehell the Latin is. And it seems like grace is always there, just waiting to be asked to dance. But it won't force itself on us - it needs an opening or an invitation. How much grace can one receive? How open can one be to people, places and things? How willing can one be to write in obscurity for a season? How courageous can one be and get back up on the bike? How loving can one be to someone who always wounds with words or silence? How strong can one be in the face of the false self? Lotsa space, lotsa grace. That's enough for today. There'll be fresh grace on the ground in the morning. But you may have to stoop down to pick it up.