Grace Is Gone

Sometimes I forget grace.

It is nearly everywhere, if we take the time seek it out. For me, that has become increasingly difficult in this age of relentless desideratum. The minute-to-minute war against feeding the outrage held against those we disagree with is exhausting. The desire to watch the latest “best show ever” is ceaseless and alluring. The need to bolster awareness to social issues of import, noting the progress and obstruction they face for planning activism accordingly is also bottomless, or so it seems.

However, grace hides in plain sight, resolute and available. It never holds a grudge at our ignorance but simply bides its time knowing that eventually we will wander back, anxious for the comfort it gives. There are many forms grace can take. It’s as malleable as we need it to be, filling us when we’re empty. It can be the laugh of a child, the tender way a lover grabs your hand, or a sweet breeze during a summer rain shower. Its flexibility alone is breathtaking.

As I so often do, I had forgotten grace the past few weeks. Life had been taking a non-linear path rather than my preferred straight line, inflicting stress with its untidy turns. I sought escape from these pesky intrusions. My phone was the perfect vehicle to launch me from my reality. It took up residency in my hand more than usual, offering so many ways to release my mind from the instruments of my dissatisfaction, and I was all too willing to accept the invitation. It is filled with the false promises of relief. Rarely does one put their device down, after having explored the phalanx of apps available, and truly feel at ease. Each click and scroll leads to less satisfactory reprieves; many times these said clicks lead to further anger and anxiety – two feelings distinctly not in the realm of relaxation.

This morning I chased the improbable again, my phone playing windmills to my Don Quixote.

Several unfulfilling moments later, I put my phone down as I prepared to make the trek to work, packing a lunch and making a cup of coffee for the journey. I kissed my wife, saying our “love yous” and goodbyes, and then walked to the door. As I reached for the knob, she said, “It looks lovely out. I bet you’ll have a nice ride in.” Those words, for whatever reason, stopped me. I turned to her and flashed my most winsome smile.

“I think so,” I replied.

On my commute, I found grace. Few might see the commute a place to find much of anything, but as I wove through the countryside of Upstate NY, I was given a reset button. This time of year, after the beauty of fall foliage and facing the onset of winter, is seen as boring and monochromatic with hues of brown dominating the landscape. But looking closer, there were other colors before me too. Not like the eye-popping brilliance synonymous with fall or the verdant abundance of spring, but subtle diversity was all around. Rolling farmland of earthy beiges interrupted by the yellowed stumps that once supported corn poking up from the ground, the same soil prepping itself for winter slumber. Mountains framed the valleys the road traversed, dark green fir trees freckling the grays of the rocks and sepia trees devoid of leaves. Sunlight dappled the uppermost parts of those mountains and trees, bringing to life that which seemed dormant. Birds dotted the cerulean sky in various specks of black and gray. Here, grace was everywhere. I drank deeply with my eyes and smiled. Jillian was right: it was a nice ride in.

Once at work, I was inundated with screens again, but this time out of professional necessity. Still, I occasionally closed my eyes for a moment here and there to replay the beauty shown on my way in, and I was able to experience that grace all over again.

All of us utilize our handheld wonders to distract us from the daily stress we face. In that capacity and if used wisely, they truly are a marvel of their own. Phones and tablets are not inherently bad. Inanimate objects rarely are. But the access to unlimited options is where we can, and often do, lose ourselves in rabbit holes into which we invariably tumble. I implore you to not let them use you. Look up once in a while. See, without the lens of technology, what lay before and around you.

I know I’ll forget grace again. At least it is never far from my grasp, awaiting my return. When I remember its presence, I’ll run to its embrace and bask in the warmth and acceptance it has to give. I’ll make promises not to forget grace again, knowing it’s an empty statement at best. I also know it doesn’t care if my promises are bereft, and its arms will be open wide when I return. Grace is non-judgmental, thankfully. We should all be so forgiving.