Sunday, March 20, 2011

IS GRACE TOO BIG A WORD?

Grace keeps breaking my rules...and I'm okay with that.

I’ve been mulling over the nature of grace as it forms in the minds and is articulated in the mouths of a wide range of folks with whom I rub elbows.  What do we mean when we say “grace?”  Philip Yancy and Brennan Manning probably moved me forward in my understanding of grace.  More lately, Rob Bell and Donald Miller explore grace in the direction I have been going.   Still, I keep being surprised by grace.  It keeps cropping up in odd places.  It still breaks my rules.  Part of me wishes there were more words for grace and part of me is satisfied to let grace bear the weight we all put upon it.  Thus, the following lines, penned in 2002:

Is grace too big a word
for its own good?
Certainly it is not too big
for mine.

Some say grace takes in too much,
indiscriminately dispensing mercy,
caressing saint and sinner alike--
absolving pride, condoning shame.

Some say grace takes in too little,
sparingly dispersing forgiveness and
seeding it with innumerable conditions,
distinguishing saint from sinner--
condemning sinner, suspecting saint.

If grace is a catch-all,
pray that it catches us all.

Breathtakingly broad in its reach
astonishingly precise in its intimacy,
it opens to enfold us all,
yet holds one at a time--
just in the nick of time.

Grace seems not dependent on our
recognition or articulation.
It seems even to surround those who
have been inoculated against it.

Yet those who recognize grace,
who turn receptively into its rays,
respond with gratitude,
live in its joy, and
return reverence for life.

No wonder we say grace
is amazing.


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