I listened to @kerriMPR speak with neuroscientist and a dance critic the other day. They tried to flesh out this word that moves through conversations of spirituality, art, dance, athletics, hospitality…Grace.
Approaching its meaning appropriately requires looking at the physical, spiritual and mental realms. I am a feeler. Well, a feeler and a smeller. My experience of grace is mostly sensual.
Sometimes it is, as the program guests mentioned, a feeling of ease that comes from being in the presence of certain someones. You know those people who just always seem happy to see you, ready to linger to hear your latest news. They remember the last time they saw you and what you shared with them then, being with them feels easy.
Places can be filled with grace as well. Today, I went to a friend’s house where she and another friend set up a holiday shop, @RedDoorStore, and that place is nailing the grace-vibe. The lighting is soft, spaces are cosy, displays all pull on memories of happy holidays, smells are straight out of grandma’s kitchen and each guest is greeted like family. It is just nice to be there.
The idea of being gracegrown comes mostly from experiences which mix place, person and the intangible. The moments in life where you know you have been gifted with ease where you might have felt strain. Walks that take you deep into spaces of pure beauty. Pieces of music which give you chills. Stories you read that tug on the back of your throat. Random acts of kindness that turn your day around. Times you catch a glimpse of tenderness between strangers. Each and every one of these experiences grow us a bit. Coming out of ourselves enough to take them in is profound. The more of these glimpses of grace that we can take note of, the more we can settle into the truth that we are recipients of so very much lovely which we did not earn, ask for, or even know to seek out. That shapes us. That softens us. That grace-grows us.
Faith is a grace-filled place for me as well. It grounds me in an experience of being relentlessly loved. It turns me outward and fuels my resolve to er on the side of kindness. It catches me short when I loose my footing. It frames my thinking about neighbor. Leaning into the model of Jesus hanging out with the people that no one wanted to be near and doing it in such a way that they felt comfortable…felt cared about….felt seen… grows me in grace.
This is advent. I love this season. For me, it is the most grace-filled season. Our house is dimly lit with blues, whites and silvers peppering shelves and tables. The fire is usually going. We snuggle under cosy blankets and watch old christmas movies. Hubby is making cookies with child #6 as I type. Music is playing. We are leaning into an experience of anticipation and growing joy. We made advent wreaths with friends last night and greenery was spread all over the table and floor as if the forest had come to dinner. All my senses got to be flooded with grace. Sounds of friends laughing. Smells of dinner for all. Feeling the snuggle of a sleeping baby in my arms. Seeing beauty as folks took trimmings and shaped them into wreaths. Grace. Grace. Grace.
Don’t get the wrong idea…this does not imply that everything was perfect. We ran out of food. I burnt a pan. The kids found spiders all over toys in the basement. The cats kept jumping on the table. Stella barked so loudly she made babies cry as they were carried into our house. At least one toilet was clogged. Toddlers fussed. Our kids stayed up too late. All the awkward/real things happened and yet…grace won the night. People felt happy to see one another. Hugs happened. Tummies were filled. Fears were shared and calmed by caring friends. That easy-being-together feeling was there in the midst of the chaos. Grace is there too…in fact, it is usually there in the space between what you planned for or thought you were in control of and what really ends up happening. What a gift!
Just to make sure to keep things real…a crash just came out from the kitchen where a bowl slipped to the floor. The child that I have shaped….turned directly at herself with words of blame, “I should have been paying better attention”. Guess where she learned that line…yep, from me. I don’t even have to make her feel badly about a mistake because I have done such a good job of it for her 11 years that she is now ready to do it to herself. No grace there. What irony that I am writing this at this moment.
Her dad, her loving and patient dad, doesn’t miss a beat. He pulls her to him and kisses her on the top of her head and says “don’t be silly. that was not your fault”. He does it quickly enough that she doesn’t have time to doubt him. She feels his ease and that stops her shame dead in its tracks. Grace!
Honestly, I am sitting here trying to guess which bowl it is to manage my level of disappointment….yep…that’s the truth. Thankfully, she can’t see my thoughts or my face which would probably give away my thoughts. Maybe I should play the Kerri Miller story again…I need some grace-gowing for sure!