BY MICHAEL REISIG –
Grace – now there’s an interesting word. It can be a person, an adjective, noun, a sense of being, a gift of spirit, a blessing, and more. It’s not just about fluid movement. In fact, it’s more about a state of mind.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Beauty without grace is the hook without bait,” and I’ll offer you a perfect example: I was doing a book signing in Wal-Mart the other day, and in the process, observing the myriad of people who were shopping. A young woman walked by who could have been truly attractive – she had the features and the figure to be eye-catching, but she moved without grace – there was no fluidness, no sense of poetry to her walk, and the gum she chewed so tenaciously purged the last of her dignity. She had never been given grace by example and consequently she had become a rose with bruised pedals.
Cats have an inherent grace. They intuitively understand, “cool.” Mark Twain had it right when he said, “If animals could speak, the dog would be a blundering outspoken fellow; but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word too much.”
Grace often manifests itself inside hospital cubicles, and before firing squads, when we come to terms with the final moments of our lives, but more importantly it should be an integral part of us long before we get to those places. Author Jerry Brown is known for a line that I really like: “Our worst days are never so bad that we are beyond the reach of God’s grace. And our best days are never so good that we are beyond the need of God’s grace.”
At some point in life we will all find ourselves the fool, and suffer the bitter taste of humiliation, but it’s courage and grace which allows us to wear that thorned crown for a short period then let it go without any serious wounds. If we’re fortunate, our grace increases with our years, even if our courage doesn’t. It’s the ability to give with dignity, as well as receive. And grace is not without power. There is grace in a well-drawn bow, and the thrust of a rapier, or the leap of a horse in full charge. There’s grace in a spinning back kick in karate, or the perfect hip throw in judo.
And most of all, grace is surrender – the willingness to accept that you are not the one with all the answers, that there is a power greater than your own, and allowing that power to infuse you and guide you. I am reminded of a quote by the author Steve Brown: “Not being changed by prayer is sort of like standing in the middle of a spring rain without getting wet. It’s hard to stand in the center of God’s acceptance and love without getting it all over you.”