GRACE WILL FIND ME
My life has been a search for Grace. My father, his conversation peppered with Southern humor, was fond of calling me “Grace,” whenever I tripped over my own feet or dribbled Red Rock Cola down the front of my Sunday pinafore. At age 6, I longed to be a graceful, twirling ballerina. Later I learned why my dance class wore long tutus for our final stage performance—to hide our decidedly ungraceful legs.
When I fell in love with charm bracelets, my Grandmother gave me a sterling silver one with three tiny charms—a cross, an anchor, and a heart. My friends’ bracelets dangled megaphones, tennis racquets, and miniscule 45 rpm records. I didn’t get the message then, but I think I do now. My Grandmother, having endured the tragic loss of her 6 year old daughter, knew that at some point in my life I might need all three charms—Faith, Hope and Love—to bring me to my Grace. Today, some fifty years later, I hold the bracelet, think about the wisdom and intention of my Grandmother, and wonder if I even know what Grace is. This much I do know—some folks have it and some don’t. Katherine Hepburn, Lou Gehrig, and my Golden Retriever had it; Britney Spears and O.J. Simpson do not. Willie Nelson, Maya Angelou, and E.O. Wilson so have it.
I continue my search—reading, writing, meditating, striving, and finally despairing of ever achieving anything close to Grace as I imagine it. I decide to let it lie fallow and go walk the dogs.
When I return to the computer, I feel a heavy truth resting in my lap like a gift placed there by someone who knows me better than I know myself. The unwrapped gift reveals a recent memory—my niece and her husband stand beside a small grave under the expansive arms of a live oak tree looking down the hill to the Ashley River. A few months before, their precious nine month old daughter had taken them by the hand and led them into the land of worried parents and very sick children. While their daughter was never sick, she was gravely ill. She died on her first birthday. Her aggrieved, shattered parents spoke through their heartbreaking sadness to share with friends and family their gratitude for the cherished blessing of having loved their daughter for 365 happy, full days. They were so filled with Grace that it spilled over on to everyone standing with them. We all felt it—Faith, Hope and Love. I had come to console them; but they, with their achingly honest acceptance of pain and loss, consoled me as I stood witness to their Grace. I felt my Grandmother’s presence and her generational strength manifest in this moment shining bravely in the countenance of the great-grand daughter she never knew. I smiled as I told myself what my Grandmother understood—my Grace will find me, too—when I need it.
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