As this year draws to a close, we celebrate the light at the end of the long, bleak tunnel that has been 2020. As much as the extraordinary breakthrough of a vaccine, reminders of another miraculous occurrence one ordinary night are everywhere. We see them in the sun’s winter light slanting through barren branches, in the gift of a holly and evergreen arrangement left on the doorstep by a friend, in the soft muzzle of a dog. The Advent season teaches us that when we least expect it, something extraordinary can and does happen.
As we await Christmas, my thoughts turn to grace. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to put aside the division of politics? Wouldn’t it be amazing to see the Twitter trolls go silent? And how about treating each other with respect and kindness, and understanding we have more in common than what divides us?
As God taught us, grace is undeserved. A sacred gift, it is simply ours for the taking. I remember a day not long before the pandemic when I felt the power of grace. I had returned to the town where I grew up, Wayne, Pennsylvania, and sat in a coffee shop, killing time before a writers’ meeting started at the bookstore up the street. The coffee shop was next to the movie theater where I went to matinees as a young girl. Some things come full circle—being back in that town sipping a cappuccino—remembering the movie The Day the Earth Stood Still
Up the street from the coffee shop was the Presbyterian church where on a June day, my husband, John, and I married. I worked for a small newspaper then; a newspaper long out of business, the building now a brewpub. When we first met, John said to me, “You’re a good writer.” I fell in love with John, not because he said that, but because of who he was … and who I might become with him by my side.
The memory of his voice, his touch, returned with striking clarity that afternoon in the coffee shop. I had done nothing to deserve the love of this honorable man I met one ordinary day under white dogwood trees. He changed my life forever. As I wrote in my memoir: John came to me when I least expected it.
I think of what the French author Colette once wrote. “What a wonderful life I've had! I only wish I'd realized it sooner!”
I choose not to be a person who believes her life has been anything less than extraordinary. This year I have written about the people and the experiences, the gratitude walks, the moments of contemplation. My friends and fellow writers have shared their words and their voices during the pandemic. These testimonials and life lessons add up to a wonderful life, one of undeserved grace.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. ~ Ephesians 2:8-9