Tag Archives: grace

The merry month of May

A small part of me is relieved to have official respite from the enforced discipline of the NaPoWriMo challenge, but I chiefly feel wistful that this most convenient excuse to put aside things other than writing has come to an end. Now I really do have to address all those deferred duties (ugh!), but I intend to maintain the daily habit of writing.

I will most certainly not post every day, though. It’s great motivation, but it’s not truly sustainable, either for me or for my readers. It stands to reason that I’ll continue to post regularly because I’ll continue to write regularly (this post grew out of my notes and reflections on the month’s activities), just not every day. You’re welcome. [wink]

Besides, I have other things to do during the month of May: welcome my eldest home from college, see my youngest through the end of her school year, teach a writing class (here’s a link if you’re interested), attend family graduation events, and…

…get ready for June, which is Lexington Poetry Month! Yes, my daily writing goal will get a nice boost from my local writing community. I plan to take part in that month-long writing challenge as well as various other poetic activities around town. Information on the 2016 celebration hasn’t been posted, but next week is the release party for the 2015 anthology, & Grace. (I’m ditching a Very Important Board Meeting to attend — shhh, don’t tell anyone!)

Stay tuned!

Waiting room poetry

Last week I spent a lot of time in a hospital, most of it waiting, with a friend. I fell behind on many things as a result, but I’m pleased to have found something to show for all those hours.

On the ward at Mercy Hospital

They believe they are caring for you as they attend the fading
needs of your body, wash you, move your hollowed
limbs. But in truth, it is you who ministers
to them: you are translucent, radiant with grace that streams through
your papery skin to bathe them where they stand, sheltered
beneath the powerful sweep of your wings.

Amazing grace

This week I attended the funeral of a relative with whom I was not particularly close. As the minister gave the eulogy, I found myself wondering if I was at the right funeral. The deceased was known in the family for his sharp tongue and the casual cruelty with which he wielded it. He was ruthlessly tyrannical with his closest relations and given to acting out of spite and apparent malice.

The minister spoke of a generous man who cared about his family and gave selflessly to the community. Indeed, I learned a great many things about him during the funeral: organizations to which he belonged, leadership positions he had held in the community, that he had once worked for NASA. I was amazed.

Granted, I had had as little to do with him as possible for the last thirty years, and a lot can happen to a person in that length of time. I found myself wishing I had known the man the minister was talking about, because he didn’t bear any resemblance to the unpleasant person I had pretty much avoided since high school.

I was especially moved when the minister gave thanks in prayer for this man’s life and the ways in which God was visible in it. By that point in the service, I was beyond incredulity and actually able to listen to the message in the minister’s words. Through mysterious grace, I was able to see this relative in a completely different light, perhaps even to see him, in some dim fashion, the way God might have seen him. And through that same miraculous grace, I was able at last to join the minister in giving thanks for this man and the curious ways in which the Spirit had worked through him.

Sufficient unto the day

When I started this blog, I included the word “daily” in its title as incentive to write every day. What I didn’t fully appreciate is that writing every day does not mean I will produce something publishable every day.

In all honesty, I haven’t actually written daily since founding the blog. I’ve fallen off the wagon more than once, for weeks at a time in some instances, but the blog has nevertheless served its intended purpose. My writing practice has been more consistent over the past 27 months than at any time since the years BC (before children). Despite feelings of inadequacy that beset me when I don’t post every day, I can truly say that my writing habits have improved. I’ve written nearly every day since a much-needed getaway in August, and my mental muscles have begun to show the effect of regular exercise in the form of more frequent posts.

On this particular day, I am able to tell myself, “Don’t get discouraged.” Even if I do not reach the goal, at least I seem to be moving in the right direction. And today, by the grace of God, that’s enough.

Reflections, on 11sep11

I worship in a church that follows the Revised Common Lectionary, a three-year cycle of scriptural readings that was created in 1985 and adopted in 1994. These are the readings in the Semicontinuous Series for Sunday, September 11, 2011:

Exodus 14:19-31

Romans 14:1-12

Matthew 18:21-35

Wow! What a powerful set of readings for this day! (Remember: these were assigned to this date in 1994.)

First, the presence of God stands between the Israelites and the Egyptians to prevent them from harming one another. How often does God do the same for us, standing between us and those who would harm us — or those whom we would harm?

God then provides a way out of this dangerous situation — an unthinkable, impossible way, but a way nevertheless. The Israelites take it, but the Egyptians fail to see that this is a way out for them, too. They can let Israel go — who would blame them under those circumstances? Instead, they pursue their vendetta — and the Israelites — and God allows them to suffer the consequences of their choice. How many times has God provided us a way out of conflict, but we refuse to see it, let alone take it?

Then we have Paul reminding us that God is the boss of everyone, even those whom we believe to be dead wrong. As God’s servants, our job is to honor God in our living and our dying, not to supervise or pass judgment on others. As Paul points out, God will ask us to account for our own behavior, not for the behavior of those around us. How much time and energy do we expend focusing on everybody else’s business?

Finally, we have Jesus telling a story about a king who forgives an enormous debt. Nothing compels the king to do this, not even the desperate debtor’s plea for clemency, which is only to be expected from someone in his position. The king simply does it because it is within his power to do so. Returned to his own sphere of influence, however, the forgiven servant fails to imitate his master, drawing upon himself the king’s disappointment and displeasure.

Like the king in the story, God offers exorbitant mercy to us and expects us to extend the same ridiculous quality of grace to others, regardless of what we think they owe us. Like both the king and the indebted servant in the story, we are not compelled to forgive, but it is within our power to do so. We know, first-hand, what it means to be forgiven, and it is reasonable that we should treat others as we have been treated. But God’s expectation goes beyond simple quid pro quo reasoning; God’s forgiveness transforms and frees us to be recklessly, fearlessly, foolishly merciful to those who have harmed us and those who mean us harm.

In the story, having his debt forgiven should have been a life-changing event for the servant: without it, everything he had or was or did would have been lost, forfeit to the debt he owed. He certainly didn’t behave like someone whose life had been radically altered in a positive direction, however. By reinstating the debt, the king simply allowed the servant’s external reality to accurately reflect his internal reality. Maybe that’s why God wants us to be so extravagant with our forgiveness: so that the full reality we inhabit is one of unreasonable, unlimited, unimaginable mercy and grace.