I have to write about grace because in recent times I have become very aware of how much grace has poured into my life over the years, and especially in recent times. It is with quiet joy that I realize that the first three letters of the word grace are the same as the first three letters of two other words that are dear to my heart : gratitude and grateful. There is no “coincidence” here. I think that grace is intrinsically connected to gratitude and being grateful.
Because I am a Christian I have a very specific belief in grace and what it is. Grace for me is a gift freely given by God to those who choose to receive it. Yes, I believe as with any gift, the recipient has to have hands wide open and be willing to accept the gift of grace. Within this concept, I also believe that grace is huge, ever present, all around me, and is mine for the taking – or for anyone else to take if they so choose. The God of my understanding is generous with the gift of grace and is in a state of constant giving. I am the one who chooses to refuse or ignore or throw away His/Her gift.
Another way that I define grace is as God’s love. As a believing and practicing Christian I experience God’s love in so many ways in my life. As I sit,stand, or lie in the arms of my husband I experience grace. When I accept or give forgiveness, I experience grace. If I am in a state of turmoil or sadness and take time to place myself in God’s loving presence, handing over any pain to Her/Him, I experience grace. Looking at a newborn baby, I experience grace. Taking in the beauty of Spirit’s creation, I experience grace.
Grace has flowed continuously into my life as I have been on the spiritual path. I have been gifted with so much that as I look back over the last thirty years I am amazed at the richness that has been poured into my life through grace. To try and chronicle all of it would take several tomes. So just looking at recent times I will attempt to give examples of unexpected grace that has come to me.
My sons live in Italy and so I do not get to see them often. Especially with today’s economic crisis, the money required to cover a round trip is prohibitive and not at all readily available. But God provides. Two weeks ago my eldest son was sent to Newport News, VA to attend a work-related conference. I’m no spring chicken any more, so to make a nine-hour road trip alone requires quite an effort on my part, but a God-given opportunity (grace) to spend a few days with my son was not to be passed up. He was being sent to “my part of the world” that allowed me to see him. That was grace.
Because I made that drive, I was given another opportunity to experience God’s grace. On the drive home I chose to stop in Fayetteville, NC to spend an afternoon and over-night with a dear sister-friend LeeAnn. LeeAnn is another spiritual sister that I am blessed with, so to spend time with her is to spend time in focused personal and spiritual growth. We don’t talk about the weather or what work is like. We dive in deep and soak up our time together because it affords us the opportunity to share so much.
Going back abut 6-7 weeks, Richard and I traveled to Seattle, WA. That was a total gift in and of itself. Because he was travelling for para-professional reasons, his room was paid for. He had a bunch of frequent traveller miles racked up, so we were able to cover my air fare. This gave me the opportunity to be able to visit with a dear friend, George, who I hadn’t seen in twenty five years!! Can you imagine the gift (grace) that was for me. On that same trip I was also able to spend a day with a woman who I had befriended a year earlier in Florida. And the grace flowed!
As Richard and I travelled home from that trip I had an amazing experience. Richard dabbles in photography and of late has played with time lapse using both still shots and video. He decided to video our flight home filming two or three minute segments at various points along the way. As we flew into the night we hit some pretty turbulent weather and a storm raged outside. (I reminded God to keep us safely in the palm of His hand and reminded my Guardian Angel to come alongside and hold the plane up!) Richard was filming the lightening and nudged me to take a look at the view from the window. This I did, and it was quite spectacular: wide flashes and forks of lightening.
As I watched I found myself not only looking directly out of the window but also glancing into the screen of Richard’s camera as he was shooting film. All of a sudden, in the screen I saw her, a magnificent angel with huge wings, hair flying out behind him/her, robe streaming in the wind, and arms reached out under the belly of the plane. I gasped and said “Look at her!” Richard turned in and looked around the plane and said “Who, Babe?” I pointed into the screen and said “Her, the angel.” He looked into the screen and said, “I don’t see anything Babe.” I pointed again and said “The angel, look there’s her head, her wings, her robe, and she’s holding the plane in her arms.”
Now Richard is very patient and understanding of me and fully accept that I am a little “different”. So gently, but without any hint of disbelief, he said “I don’t see her Babe.” Momentarily I felt panic and decided to look directly at the angel out the window, but I couldn’t see her. With my heart sinking I looked back in the screen and there she was – clear as daylight. I then thought that perhaps I was seeing a reflection of something in the screen, so I took hold of Richards hand and moved it from side to side. But there she remained as clear as could be.
I invited Richard one more time to “see her”, but he shook his head and said “I can’t see anything Babe, but when we get home we’ll play the whole video and see what shows up.” But I knew she wouldn’t “show up” on the video. She was there as a grace for me to see and to know that God was taking care of us. I am grateful for the gifts that God has bestowed upon me and I do not take them lightly. The gift of His/Her grace is a wondrous miracle that I humbly accept.