Saturday, January 15, 2011
Grace has been showing up in a no-accidents way in the last few days. The word seems to be appearing everywhere. That's probably why when my cat, Grace, sidled onto the crossword I was trying to finish, instead of bumping her off like I usually do, I sat and studied her.
I've always loved grace - as a word, as a concept, as a name. If I'd had another daughter, she would have been Grace. I had to be satisfied with a cat to carry the name so I could say it and be with it on a regular basis.
As I watched the old, half-Siamese cat purr and shed and try to watch me back through eyes that rarely track in the same direction, I laughed at how many different ways she's actually like the grace of God.
She's always there. No matter how much I ignore her or how often I shoo her away, she's always right under foot, or under chin, or following me from room to room.
There is a soft warmth to her love and it's given without regard to my mood or my desires one way or the tother. She is also capable of inflicting pain, kneading away with claws that have lost their capacity to retract well. Often she is completely silent, almost invisible. Other times she's louder than the coyotes traveling through at night and impossible to miss.
John Ortberg says, ". . . grace always and only consists of what will help someone come home and be immersed in the love of the Father." Which means sometimes grace appears as pain. Or loss.
Anne Lamott's experience of grace led her to say, "I do not at all understand the mystery of grace - only that it meets us where we are, but does not leave us where it found us."
My favorite discovery is this by Samuel Rutherford, "Grace grows best in winter."
In these weeks of grieving I've been aware of something missing. For the first time in my life I'm not blaming God for this pain, or for my daughter's death, or my nephews, or the death of Christina Green. I don't understand, but I don't blame. I would choose for them all to be alive, for the pain their deaths have caused to be erased, but I don't get to choose. I only get to choose whether I'll rest in God's grace, which is abundant in my life beyond anything I've ever experienced. And I can choose to allow that grace to flow through me once the thawing of spring arrives.
In the meantime, I hold a bony old cat with claws stuck in my shirt and whisper, "I love you, Grace."