So, at a baby shower recently, I watched as a five year old vigorously helped her mother ripping open gifts and loving everything her mother got. She was thrilled. And then, after opening another gift, looking it up and down and all over, proclaimed to the world that “Hey, it’s made in China! That’s so awesome!” I laughed so hard at this proclamation because she got a kick out of something so small and ordinary and normal, but to her it was a sense of gift. In a way, her gratefulness in life allowed her to see something usually sense in such a negative light with such a profound sense of the gift and its value.
Another story. I was helping with Wednesday bible class at church and after watching a child open a door for another, said that “Ladies go first, gentleman last.” Looking to stump like a good adult, I asked what was second. He proclaimed without a thought and said “horses.” He then walked away without giving it a second thought while I was thrown aback by his quick answer. It is foolishness in a way. But again, to have the sense of gift- really a sense of grace where gratefulness and an open regard to the world are the norm- is to open ourselves to a world of wonder, that we can be thankful for and positively embrace, even when those things are foolishness.
What am I saying really? It is in these small things, these ordinary and foolish phrases that I am reminded what it means to have a sense of grace. To open ourselves to the world in trust and wonder, and suspending the need to please or be pleased or succeed. To have an unconditional regard for the world, in all its childish foolishness and find laughter among the ordinary and gratefulness amongst the darkness. I look back to a movie I watched not too long ago, “The Soloist.” In that movie a homeless man has an incredible gift to play music, whether on a violin or cello. It is an amazing gift. Beautiful gift. But so many in the movie, including the main character, Robert Downey Jr., come with a sense of duty to that gift rather than a sense of grace. They try to help him show off and proclaim his gift as part of the friendship- but the key is in the grace of giving unconditional regard to this man in his perplexing and isolating mental disease and being present with him. Instead of finding the gift amongst the popularity and performance, it is the grace of being grateful for that man, for the notes that powerfully dance off his strings, and being foolishly open to the applause of wings of birds and the beauty of relationship. Instead of looking at the world as a gift if it meets conditions, we instead open ourselves to life in a way that treasures those gifts- the people, the music, nature, friendship, presence, community, faith- because they are gifts in and of themselves. To open ourselves like that with a beautiful gratefulness is to have a real sense of grace. It is not easy. I have trouble thanking God for those small and ordinary things and find myself drawn to bitterness and cynicism. But I want that measure of grace. I want that sense of grace where I find myself open to the world as a gift, not as an enemy or competitor or duty.
Journey with me God, journey with us, and let us see your grace which permeates this world, and find the grace and the gifts of life in and around one another. Amen.