Grace Finds Us
Every now and then - when we are paying attention - we are welcomed into grace. Perhaps grace is always there, holding us. It’s hard for us to see this and feel it when we are deep in our grief. But I believe at some of the best times, when we least expect it, grace finds us.
Grace found me on a late spring afternoon while I was sitting and rocking on her front porch. It came in the quiet that followed a thoughtful question.
I was visiting with a gracious, southern lady who had recently lost her beloved husband of 73 years. She had macular degeneration and I had learned early in our time together that even though she could barely see, she continued to experience beauty. She was kind and generous in her story-telling and although I hadn’t gotten to know her husband while he was alive, her stories provided vivid images of who he was and how they spent their years together. Their love continued to live on in her as we sat on her porch that afternoon and we rocked and talked side-by-side.
After sharing several stories, she said to me, “Now Lesley, tell me why you do what you do.” And then she waited patiently while I searched for an image that conveyed what this work means to me.
“Most days,” I began telling her, “it can be like entering into a wonderful art gallery. What I love about my work is listening to stories. When I begin getting to know someone, like we’re doing today, it’s as though I am imagining a blank canvas.
“Through your sharing of stories about your husband, I imagine shapes and colors gently appearing. And as I listen, I am invited in as treasured, precious images of your loving and living together begin to take shape.
“Slowly with each visit, with each story a bit of color appears. With time, these colors begin to blend together and I can begin to see. With time, what was blank takes on a form that I can glimpse with my heart’s-eye. With time, grace enters in. And the privilege of this work is that as I pass through this gallery of colors and stories, I believe that I am witnessing something that is held in the center of God’s heart.” I stole a glimpse of her then, rocking and listening, smiling and nodding. And I knew it to be true.
The psalmist wrote of longing to see the goodness of God in the land of the living. Walking through this wonderful gallery of story-paintings with folks feels close to that goodness of God. I was reminded again while rocking in an old rocker and grace found us both.
Breath prayer: “seeing goodness” “all around us”
Prayer: Holy One, as we welcome more light returning again this night, we give thanks for all that we are given the grace to see. We give thanks for people who come into our lives, embodying your loving presence. Open our hearts, our eyes and our ears so that we remember and experience more fully your loving grace, holding us our whole lives long. Amen.
This is one of the chapters from my new book: Grief and the Psalms: Companioning the Moon in 29 Days. It's been fun to write again and I hope if you appreciate this chapter, you'll buy the book when it's ready.
Thanks to friend Susie for most of these pictures in the slideshow...
Working in Family Experience at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Lesley is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. A Candler School of Theology graduate, Lesley has just published her second book, Grief and the Psalms: Companioning the Moon for 29 Days (available on this website). She and her partner, Linda Ellis are raising their two sons, Brogan and Sam in Decatur, GA.