Missiles are being launched and countries that are armed to the gills and seething are being taunted. Presidents are pardoning racists and proclaiming them upstanding. The heavens have opened and floods are plaguing creation. Gunmen enter libraries and kill. Cars are driven into crowds; people are “disappeared,” trafficked, bullied, ignored.
All of this and still, grace abounds. In fact, I think it is at world moments like this that grace flourishes. It might look like the Cajun Navy setting off with every means of conveyance to lend a hand in Houston. It might look like someone tapping out a smoke and sharing it with the shaky guy on the corner or strangers helping those who are injured. I think she can sound like laughter; can sound like Big Quiet; can feel like the warm wrap of someone’s embrace; taste like coffee, like cold water, like meatloaf and mashed potatoes or red lentil lemon soup. Grace, a fullness of presence/kindness/mercy/awareness/recognition/wonder/welcome, unsolicited and freely shared… I think it can save us like nothing else can. It does not run. It abides. Not to mitigate reality…to help us make our way within it as humanly as possible.
I have the sense too that she dresses simply, at least the grace I know. It’s easier to move that way…to flow, dance, crouch, shimmy, sun salute, dig a hole, plant a seed, tend a heart. It’s also easier to recognize her that way. Not so many layers. She reminds me of my favorite of the 99 Names of God…Al-Latif…the Subtle One.
I have had several encounters with her within the last week. Moments that since they happened are never too far away from present to me…right there, in the corner of my heart…swooping up, abuzz like a hummingbird.
The first, I got a haircut. A simple task. But the forty-five minutes to an hour every couple of months that I spend with the woman who cuts my hair is time I anticipate with joy. She cares about the art and technique of her craft, to be sure. It’s more, though. She seems to care about how she makes her way in the world and honors the Being of others. We have wide ranging conversations–one from last week being about ‘the nearness of voice,’ and what it is to walk with a voice of Love inside-and to experience that love through voice in a variety of ways–laughter, shared quiet, serious conversation, reading aloud, etc. The conversation and the time was a gift.
Next, I went to the Farmers’ Market as is my usual habit on a Saturday early morning. This time, all of the table spots were taken, so I went out to the skinny deck off the second floor and claimed a bench. About fifteen minutes later, a more fashionable version of myself was standing beside me asking, “May I share your bench?” She was about my age, similar hair, glasses, backpack, a hot drink in a travel mug. I said, “Of course–please..” and scooted my backpack closer while continuing to read. That was all we said to each other until I got up to go about a half hour later. “Have a good rest of your Saturday,” I said with a quiet smile. She looked up from her e-reader–“It’s been a great way to begin it– Thank you.” So simple. So lovely.
Then, I was the only person who showed up for a program at the public library. The library had been collecting people’s suggestions all summer about “What Halifax should read next!” on Post-its and this was to be a conversation about the results–the data had been collated, a bibliography produced, etc. I walked in the room and there was the librarian…and an empty semi-circle of chairs. She showed me the bibliography and was mentioning other programs…passing a reasonable number of minutes to allow for any last minute stragglers to enter the room. No one. So she and I started talking. We spent over an hour talking about books on the list and off, book covers, what worked and what didn’t…the joys of walking around with a book in your bag whether you get a chance to read it or not…and laughing, laughing, at times… I stood to leave and said “I’m really sorry that no one else came to your program after all of the preparations–but I have enjoyed myself thoroughly! Thanks!” She responded–“And, if only one was going to show, I’m glad it was you!” We closed with a handshake and an exchange of names.
One small act at a time.