My assignment this week with my writing partners is to articulate my definition of grace because I’m finally narrowing my focus on the theme for my WIP, Out of the Woods. I thought I knew this definition, but when my partner asked me, I fumbled for what I meant.
After our meeting, I stumbled across this:
The hardest spiritual work in the world is to love the neighbor as the self–to encounter another human being not as someone you can use, change, fix, help, save, enroll, convince or control, but simply as someone who can spring you from the prison of yourself, if you will allow it. (Barbara Brown Taylor/An Altar in the World) –reference found here.
Her quote reminds me of people who point fingers at others in condemnation, not realizing that what they condemn is what is inside them. You are my mirror. If I hate what I see in you, chances are I loathe it in myself. I recognize my shadow in someone else far more easily than I do in myself.
Grace forbids condemnation because there isn’t room for both.
And by accepting the other, we are sprung from our prisons.
By other, I mean that which is different from us.
I’m riveted by the notion of .grace because it was absent in my family. Actually, it pretty much still is. We are awkward in giving it, and we don’t recognize it when it is extended to us. I am convinced that my mother’s grief and sorrow over her choices made her sick. She never knew how much I loved her perhaps because she couldn’t accept it. If you don’t believe in something, can you recognize it? Ever?
Another assignment I have is to identify points of grace in my life, and in my mother’s life. I’m surprised by how difficult it’s been to identify such moments of grace for her. In my own life, yes, but not Mama’s. Not sure what that means.
What is grace to you?
good question. not sure i can answer. i’ve always found truth in hemingway’s definition of a hero: “grace under pressure,” but i think that’s a different use of “grace.” i think we have to be really comfortable with ourselves before we can show grace. perhaps we show it to ourselves first–it comes from within.
good post, stacy. i miss you!