“Grace is the beauty of form under the influence of freedom.” ~Frederich Schiller
“You’re Grace?” The question was not so strange. My business name contains “Grace,” and the column which holds my blog is ‘Amazed by Grace’. If either of my sons had turned out to be a daughter, her name would have been Elizabeth Grace. This one word, grace, represents much beauty to me for a multitude of reasons, but especially because it is a gift. No, my name is not Grace, but I am absolutely amazed by grace. I always hope that when I meet someone, they see in me the presence of grace. To me, grace transforms both the giver and the receiver with a beauty that no plastic surgeon could sculpt. Grace is just a word, and yet it is so much more. Grace is a word that originated in the 13th century to convey kindness. Grace is just a word, and yet it holds more power than a gavel. Grace.
I cannot put my finger on what grace is, but I know how its presence makes me feel, much like the music playing impacts me with notes I cannot touch. It is forgiveness and it is favor that represent something outside of justice. We can’t earn grace, and we don’t have to give grace, but it adds beauty to our life and someone else’s. Even music has grace–grace notes, that is; tiny notes not necessary to the melody but notes that add to the beauty of the piece. That is an easy way to consider grace in your life–not essential, yet adding beauty by its presence.
In a religious setting, grace is defined as the unmerited favor of God. Shiller’s quote uses grace in relation to the Greek Gods, with grace worn as a girdle, then removed and shared. No matter how it has been used in relation to God or gods, it can translate to the common person–to you and to me. That is the grace that continues to amaze me in its simple and powerful existence. How many times have people shown me grace when I have spoken out of emotion instead of intellect? As a verb it is to beautify, to embellish, to elevate. As a noun it is mercy, pardon, favor.
Why write about grace? It’s the holidays, and if you exchange gifts with anyone, this is worth considering, so keep reading. While I love the many forms of the word (you can grace me with your presence, she can gracefully move through a room, and in the end he can show you grace), it is the thought of grace as a gift that creates beauty that most enamors and encourages me. If the Greek goddess Venus could physically remove her girdle of grace to bestow its beauty upon another, why can’t we? Venus was no less beautiful when she shared the grace, and neither will we be.
Most gifts you give away and no longer possess. For instance, if I give you money, I will not have more money in my bank account. If I give you the scarf I have made, I do not suddenly have more scarves for myself. If, however, I give away grace in all its beauty (favor or forgiveness), it creates more beauty within me. It will do the same for you–are you willing to try? Much like paying it forward at the coffee shop seems to catch on, so does giving grace.
So, how do we do this? How do we wrap a gift that cannot be boxed or bagged or place a bow where there is no package?
Who needs your grace? It might be your child, your parent, your spouse, your neighbor, your co-worker, or a total stranger. They don’t deserve your forgiveness or favor any more than your foul attitude or thoughtless actions deserve theirs. In fact, this might be a good time to go ahead and admit that you won’t feel very comfortable giving a gift like this to someone who has done something like ‘that’ to you. Do it anyway.
Like a grace note completes a piece of music, notes of grace complete us in life. That’s what makes grace so beautiful, such an attractive gift. As with any gift, we begin by making a choice. Grace doesn’t just happen on its own.