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Gathering Grace Wherever It Falls

On Soaking Up Joy, Pure and Simple

Eat
Pears and cinnamon on table

YelenaYemchuk/Thinkstock

These might be called the sawdust days—dry and rough and shaved into crumbles.

Some nights I fall into bed, thinking, hoping, praying maybe my tossings and turnings, the brackets in between sleep, will clear out my head and my heart and my soul.

But then I wake up in the morning, op my feet on the floor, feel the twinge up my leg. And the one that gnaws at my heart. The one that weighs me down.

Oh, it’s all sorts of somethings. The news from the box by the side of the bed, the one I ought to change, maybe, to Mozart instead of the global markets’ collapse. Then there’s the news that comes folded on paper, the paper that’s brought me my paycheck all these years, and the love of my life, and both our boys; our double bylines, we call them. Brought me a lifetime’s adventures, too. And the chance to soak up the stories of everyday saints and unsinkable sinners. But these days, it’s all turned on its head—layoffs and buyouts are everyday news in the newsroom; so, too, the slashing of newsprint and stories. It’s all making me dizzy.

So it is that I walk through these hours, sometimes aching and oftentimes wincing. I swallow back tears more often than anyone knows.

And I gather up grace, wherever it falls.

I’ve been through these kinds of days before. I’ve learned what it takes. The one sure holy equation.

It’s grace gathering, pure and simple.

And its holiest spark is how it comes cloaked in the plainest of cloth. Doesn’t come at you blinking and beeping and flashing bright lights. You just lay down a footstep and find that you’ve entered compartments of grace.

Just today it came in cinnamon toast, studded with raisins, slathered with butter and drifted with mounds of cinnamon sugar. That toast shared the plate with a pear, sliced and juicy and waiting. For someone.

My little one, the one who brings me grace by the gallon these days, he was due to bound in the door any minute. I, too, had just stumbled in, as a matter of fact. Day before, I’d plain missed the after-school hour, typing away at my faraway desk, the one in the newsroom downtown.

I could’ve skipped right over this moment, too, this chance, this grace in the wings. Could have mad-dashed back to my desk here at home. Back to the work that’s never quite done.

But then, without folderol, without the trill of a drum, those scant few minutes—the ones when the backpack is shed and the stories spill fiercely— they invited me in.

Come, come, they whispered. Partake. Take a moment, lift this up from this everyday altar. Break bread. Then, while you’re at it, the moments insisted, take it and toast it. Lay it out where he’ll see it, where he’ll know in an instant: she was waiting for me. My mama, she knows how to feed me.

And so, grace descended on us, wrapped us, tight in the blanket of side-by-side comfort.

Grace is balm for the soul. It feeds us in places that growl with unworldly hunger. It moistens the parts that are parched.

Grace is the prayer beads we string in a row. The rosary of life lived at attention. It’s the layer of soul tied to Divine.

And it comes unannounced most every time.

It comes, yes, in cinnamon toast. It comes, too, in the molasses light of October, the way it catches on the last dying petal of the black-eyed Susan I stubbornly keep in the vase on the sill.

It comes in the moon playing peekaboo behind the whipped-cream swirls of the clouds in the night sky, a frolic so wholly delicious you stop on your way to dump out the trash, and next thing you know you’re humming along with all of the stirrings that come from the boughs and the bushes—a rhapsody you wouldn’t have heard, wouldn’t have taken in gulps, but for the something called grace that slowed you and held you. And seeped in through the cracks.

It comes, grace does, like the brush of the great palm of God, there on your brow.

Be filled, it urges. Take heart, it commands.

The world is more than you know, more than you see. There is, at work every hour, a layer of beauty and truth and infinite wisdom.

Its name is grace.

Gather it greedily. It’s there for the hungry, the thirsty, the aching.

It’s there for the ones who believe. And it’s there for the ones who barely remember.


An excerpt from Motherprayer: Lessons in Loving by Barbara Mahany


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