I wrote a song today that is too close to home for me to sing. It's one of the most beautiful things I've written in a long, long time. Because it's about the complex beautiful that is another human being - a person who is imperfect and is traveling through an imperfect world. Someone like me - a ragamuffin.
I want to write about it . . .
But I just can't write about it tonight. Probably not tomorrow or the next day, either.
So I'll share a story I heard recently.
It's about giving thanks:
A young seminary student was doing hospital visitations. She visited a woman whose illness was terminal. The patient had lost the ability to walk, to write, to do most of the things she liked . . . and soon it looked like she would lose her sight. But she had such joy. The joy was contagious.
'One day the student asked her, "How do you stay so joyful in the middle of all this pain?"
The patient answered, "I'm just so thankful that I can still see."
The student asked her, "But what will you do when you can no longer see?"
The patient answered, "I will be thankful to hear your voice."
The student asked her, "And what will you do when you can no longer hear?"
The patient answered, "Then I will just be so happy to know that you are here, visiting me."
I know I didn't do that story justice - it was told much better when I heard it. You get the picture, though, right?
Ordinary life is full of miraculous joy - joy that multiplies itself - only if we can remain grateful.
Grateful for something, anything.
This morning I walked a couple of miles after hearing some news and listened to the same song over and over again, "I will open my hands, will open my heart."
Yesterday I read these words in Mr. Manning's book: "Grace is inclusive."
How could I know that today I'd be challenged with it? And would need to hear Sara Groves' song? How could I know?
This is an idea that needs to be unpacked. The word, "inclusive" has become loaded with meaning in our culture. I enjoy most of its meanings. If you know me or my music, you've already picked up on that. I embrace a wide variety of friends, and find them all to be worthy of respect and consideration. But that's not the sort of "inclusive" I'm thinking about today.
When Mr. Manning says that "grace is inclusive," he's talking about the acceptance of life in its entirety.
Meaning . . . we throw nothing out when we give thanks.
We acknowledge that the life we have is the life we have been given . . . life is the gift. It's a gift even when we suffer. It is a gift in spite of imperfect human circumstance.
I'm not suggesting that the suffering is the gift.
I'm suggesting that life is the gift in spite of the suffering. As a person who tries to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, I am suggesting that God can and will be present with this life-gift even as we walk through "the valley of the shadow of death."
Tomorrow is my 4th wedding anniversary.
Four years ago my best friend married me. And for the last four years I've been learning about grace and the inclusivity of it by way of marriage. I have experienced the unreserved care of another human being - someone who tries to treat me with inclusivity . . . who does not throw out the parts that are difficult. I have also been challenged in those tough moments - challenged to breathe deep and give thanks for what is good, worthy, and true. Because those are the things that hold a healthy relationship together.
Sometimes I look back on our story and think, "How did we make it this far? How did that one conversation back there not knock us down? How did that one event not do us in? How did we manage to get past this, that, or the other?" Because nobody is perfect.
Yeah - life is a gift.
No - human life is not perfect.
I want to say that I have a full and healthy understanding of inclusive grace as it applies to my own life . . . but I also want to tell you the truth - I don't.
I'm not there yet. I'm trying to wrap my head around it.
I have seen it. I know what it looks like. I know what it sounds like. I can use it in a sentence . . .
But I don't know how to translate it - how to turn it back in on my own life . . . how to let it in?
I am starting at square one.
And from giving thanks I hope to learn more. More about the love of God. More about being a healthy human being. More about the way Jesus has affected my life. It all comes back to thanksgiving.
Peace & Goodness,