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.
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…