“…there are two ways through life, the way of Nature and the way of Grace. You have to choose which one you’ll follow.
Grace doesn’t try to please itself. Accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked. Accepts insults and injuries.
Nature only wants to please itself. Get others to please it too. Likes to lord it over them. To have its own way. It finds reasons to be unhappy when all the world is shining around it. And love is smiling through all things.”
I hold this quote from Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life close to my heart. The film is about a father and mother dealing with the death of their son, and his childhood shown through flashbacks. The father is nature and the mother is grace. If you have the time, watch it. Or rather, experience it. The way Malick’s camera discovers the world around him shows God’s glory in things as simple and beautiful as sunlight and as devastating as death and rushing water.
Anyways, I’ve been trying to live in grace. And it is a struggle. This afternoon finally feels like spring on Long Island. The sun was shining and the birds were chirping and all was calm and hopeful. After doing some yard work I settled down for a nap and was admiring the way the light was filtering through the curtains. Prime napping weather.
I was thinking to myself “this is God at his most wonderful”. He’s always there, but these moments are the ones I cherish. The moments where everything just feels like honey. Like one of Malick’s movies, the soft light and breeze coming through the window was majestic and worthy of a picture.
I was soaking it in and drifting off to sleep when I heard it. The dreaded lawn mower. Someone in this neighborhood had the decency to turn on this blaring power tool in the middle of my peaceful afternoon. How dare they? On a Saturday? The nerve.
Grace flew out that romanticized window real quick. Prayers over, nap ruined.
I find that I have a lot of these lawn mover moments lately. The act of living becomes consuming and then compounded by work, marriage, friends and dreams.
I start to put conditions on peace, on grace.
Now, I fully support carving out time for self-care, reflection and connecting with God. I think some structure to our spiritual maintenance is necessary. But, what would it look like to practice grace, gratitude and love in the moments that aren’t quiet? Where there is no sunlight or spring?
My new intention is to make a choice to practice grace as often as possible, especially when I lean towards entitlement and stress.
Like the mother in Tree of Life talks about, we have a choice. We can be like nature and bump into the world, or we can go with grace and accept the lawn mowers on Saturday afternoons.
“Love is smiling through all things”. Yes, yes it is. This world is so beautiful, and I’m so blessed to get the chance to be a part of it. I once heard that “life doesn’t happen to you, it happens for you”. Gliding through life allows the latter to happen.
Here’s to a fresh start, at 6:15 on a Saturday.
How do you practice grace?