there is a kind of grace that comes through the prayer of self-effort the spider works hard to create a web than waits for grace and daily bread the pine tree works hard to create a special cone filled with pollen and waits for the wind, Holy Spirit, and time to ripen its fruit in order to pollinate, to spread the word of God

“Grace, then, is grace, – that is to say, it is sovereign, it is free, it is sure, it is unconditional, and it is everlasting.” ~ Alexander Whyte

Grace is a complicated premise. I remember intersecting with the word as first grader. Standing in the middle of an auditorium filled with children my age, I was required by my Christian school to recite Bible passages. I don’t understand why my Hindu parents chose to enroll me in a school that honored a different religion from what we practiced at home, but I am grateful for this experience because those beginnings shape my definition of grace.

My other connection stems from evenings at the dinner table in my house. My mom cooked hot roti fresh from the stove. The green vegetables, the plate of cucumbers and tomatoes, and pickled relish added color to our chipped sunburned table. Before my sister or I stuffed the buttered goodness in our mouth, my father mandated that we say grace. The prayer began with the phrase “Om Saha Nau-Avatu” and served as our way to honor God and the meal we were fortunate to eat.

These two memories offered a glimpse into grace, but the texture of what it really meant did not percolate until much later. I needed grace to mean something more than a prayer at the dinner table or the recitation of a Bible passage. My struggle almost always involves trying to navigate the distance between sorrow and happiness. I cannot seem to reconcile the two opposite emotions. This month I’ve witnessed a new couple celebrate their upcoming nuptials, while a mother mourns the loss of her child. There are mothers who welcomed multiple babies, while other women are finding it difficult to even conceive one bundle of joy. Some are celebrating promotions at work, while others are wondering whether in the next month they will be in the pool of layoffs. My own personal pendulum revolved around trying to navigate the loss of my father and the birth of my daughter that happened in close proximity to one another. This provided my impetus to really pay attention to what I needed to reconcile two very extreme emotions.

***

Grace is in small things. Last weekend the mountains welcomed me at dawn. The sun played hide-and-seek with nature and her surroundings. I glanced up and caught a peak of the beginnings of a golden waterfall. In that moment, I took a breath, inhaled and exhaled, and listened to the birds, looked up at the light blue sky and tried to bottle up the feeling of this kind of grace—the ability to hike, to see, to hear, to feel the texture of what it means to be truly alive.

In the last month in particular, I’ve learned to appreciate the grace of simple things. The simplicity of knowing that you can walk, feel your breath, enjoy the sway of the trees and understand that this simplicity is a miracle. Isn’t this grace? I am always thinking about uncertain terrain between the good and the bad. Undermining what is in front of me, I tend to focus on all the things that aren’t happening, on what happened in the past, or what may occur in the future. In truth, though, grace is in the current moment. It is in the practice of appreciating the small gifts that encompass the busyness of your days. What we dismiss as routine or boring is where grace resides.

Witnessing grace has taught me that these moments are short, fleeting and temporary. But it is up to me to sink into the glory of such goodness without yearning for more.

It turns out that grace doesn’t have to be complicated.

This post originally appeared on The First Day. 

Image: Graces by Fe Langdon via Flickr

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