armed with will and determination and grace, too

My cousin Michael died.  It was years ago, and we’d never been especially close; if we’d passed each other in a mall, I’m sure we never would have recognized each other.  When we were kids we’d see each other once every couple of years and spend the first three-quarters of the visit shy and awkward and then start talking, and then wonder why our families never got together,  and then say goodbye.  I hadn’t thought of him in years, until my mom called one day to say that forest ranger-type folks had found him in his truck somewhere in the mountains.  He’d been in that truck for a couple of months, and a shotgun to the head had ended it sometime in those months, but no one would say with any certainty whether it was an accident or not.

I sat in the pew at his funeral, and I realized I didn’t know many people there, despite being related to many of them.  And finding myself undistracted by familial goings-on, I listened.

The minister gave a sermon on grace.

Grace, as he felt it was given by his god.  Grace, as we could and should be exhibiting it.  Giving love and understanding and compassion without stopping to measure whether or not any of them are warranted.

It wasn’t what I’d expected to hear about that day.  And I have not a hot clue what it had to do with my departed cousin.  But I found myself affected on a cellular level, and very few things have ever gotten to me on that level.

From then on, I found myself searching out examples of grace, admiring it.

Eventually, aspiring to it.

The day-to-day goings on, my own weaknesses, bad luck and factors beyond my control – they conspired to keep me falling short of grace.

But then,

as I found myself tested and torn and stretched, to the point I thought I could feel myself start to fly apart on the aforementioned cellular level….

there came opportunities for grace.

Times where the choice was jarringly clear, I could choose to wallow and sink deeper.  Or I could transcend and give and not think about the price or the loss or fairness or any of it.

And sometimes I did.

Unfortunately, there is a corollary to grace, that the minister failed to mention, and that I didn’t actually conceive of, until I got there.

See, the thing about grace, is, you have to shut the hell up about it.

Because the minute you draw attention to your graciousness…

it evaporates.

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12 responses to “armed with will and determination and grace, too

  1. I’m so glad you put your thoughts out to share with me. You always either make me smile, or think. Sometimes both. Tonight is one of those. I’ll smile because you’ve made me remember going through the same “getting to know you all over again,” bits with some of my family, I’m remembering a cousin who died too young, and I’m thinking about grace. You may have made tomorrow an even better day. Thanks!

  2. same with humility, by the way…

  3. This made me want to stand on my desk and say “oh captain my captain”, cuz it was beautiful and spot on.

  4. I have a cousin Michael, only he is my brother, Danny.

  5. My cousin Michael’s funeral was reading a line in “The Prophet” one day about how fruit trees aren’t selective about who eats from them. Or something like that. It’s weird how getting everything taken away teaches us about giving.

  6. I’ve heard there really is no such thing as altruism. Two people can argue that one all night long.

  7. I loved this post. I think sometimes it can feel awkward or wrong or evaporating-causing to talk about things that matter to us, but I think by sharing this you were actually being gracious.

    Thank you.

  8. Quadelle totally said what I would have written here. Wword for word.

    So all I can say is DITTO.

    And thank you for this eloquent and touching post.

  9. I’ve never been good at grace. I have a lot of growing up to do. But you, I’m sure and I know, could master it.

  10. True that.

    I don’t really ever think much about grace. I think it’s far too religious a concept for me to get my head around.

  11. I met a man yesterday on the beach, he was very old, slightly ragged,with a beaming smile. He asked me about a stone i wear around my neck, then explained that he is an ‘appreciator’. goes around appreciatiating whatever touches him….what a wonderful career choice.

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