inspiration

What is grace?

I like to define grace as a fleeting experience in which God is clear and evident. With this broad definition, grace can be known in so many of life’s moments. It might be a moment of shared prayer with a friend. It might be observing an interaction between strangers in which God seems to be whispering, “notice this.” Sometimes, I recognize grace in the vast, clear blue sky. Always, I experience God at the beach, whether in the sound of the waves or the view of the horizon. Grace is even evident in frustration, pain, suffering, and sadness. God makes every moment, every breath, an opportunity for grace.

I write this “new” (revised) introduction on June 25, 2015. It’s been over a year since my last post here. When I think about the reasons why I haven’t written, I can’t really pinpoint any one thing. And yet, the call to write is back in my heart. It’s changing and evolving, and I embrace it. I’m confident that God is bringing me back to pointing out the divine in the everyday through my writing.

On June 15, my husband and I began a new adventure. We’re living in Singapore for a couple of years. I’m embracing this change in our lives, and I’ll be collecting my thoughts about Singapore here. In the process, I’m hoping to find grace in the experience of moving, adjusting to living in a large international city, and finding my way.

My passion for writing about grace has always been fueled by a love and appreciation of spiritual writing by wonderful, spiritual authors, who have, in a sense, become my mentors over the years. These writers, some contemporary and some ancient, inspire my thought and inform my life. I’ve included a list of recommended reads for your pleasure.

Through daily prayer, I continually find myself drawn to certain sayings, quotations, and passages. At times, I want to hold onto them for a day, or a week, or longer. At times I create a visual of the quote for myself, and when I do, you might find then here. I hope you enjoy them.

Every day, I pray that God will enlighten my vision, so that I can see the grace that abounds in every moment.

I invite you to do the same.

May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.

–John O’Donohue

trust

My daughter is going into the peace corps. I find this so hard to believe. Wasn’t it only yesterday that my mom and I were painting the cow-jumping-over-the-moon nursery? (It was the perfect decor, since we didn’t know whether our little offspring was going to be a boy or a girl.) Wasn’t it only yesterday that we loaded our tiny newborn into her brand new baby carrier car seat and took her up Mount Battie in Camden, Maine on her ‘First Outing”? (She was barely a week old.) It might have been that, combined with our ‘First Plane Ride’ two weeks later, that instilled in her the wanderlust that drives her to this day. (We moved to Kansas soon after she was born.)

She leaves for Kosovo on June 6. And while I have known, ever since she applied, that this could actually happen, when we got the news that she had received her official invitation, reality began to set in. In all honesty, I secretly hoped that she wouldn’t make it through the very competitive selection process. But as time tends to do, the grief over the thought of having my daughter so far away from me for so long has waned, somewhat. The roller coaster of emotions that go along with this separation will carry me for the next two-and-a-half years, to be sure. And yet, when I sit with all of these realities in prayer, I know God’s grace.

My mind tells me, she’s going so far away… And God responds, she’s an adult, now.
My minds says, it’s so dangerous… And God responds, I’ll watch over her.
My mind tells me, she won’t have a car, or a mall, or her comfy bedroom… And God whispers, she doesn’t NEED any of those things.
My mind tells me, she NEEDS my love and guidance… And God chuckles a bit. Because God is love, and God is in every face she will see every day during this amazing adventure on which she is about to embark.

It’s funny, this parenting thing. We try to love them with all our hearts, we guide them, we protect them. We say “no” perhaps a few too many times. Or maybe not enough? And we pray. A lot. We do all of these parenting things imperfectly, at best. And somehow, with God’s grace and with Holy Mystery, they become a person who wants to serve others. I’ve thought about this so many times in the past few months. Where did this desire in her soul come from? I’m not entirely sure that I had anything to do with it. But I delight in it, I believe in it, and I am overflowing with gratitude for it.

Today, I pray for complete trust in God’s plan, that plan that is Holy Mystery.

I invite you to do the same.

Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’
-Matthew 19:21

prophets

communion of saints

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.

The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent
enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of
saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.

No prayer fully expresses our faith.

No confession brings perfection.

No pastoral visit brings wholeness.

No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.

No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about.

We plant the seeds that one day will grow.

We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.

We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.

This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.

It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an
opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master
builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.

We are prophets of a future not our own.


 

*This prayer was composed by Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw, drafted for a homily by Card. John Dearden in Nov. 1979 for a celebration of departed priests. As a reflection on the anniversary of the martyrdom of Bishop Romero, Bishop Untener included in a reflection book a passage titled “The mystery of the Romero Prayer.” The mystery is that the words of the prayer are attributed to Oscar Romero, but they were never spoken by him.