Delight in Unexpected Grace
Bedtime in T-minus fifteen minutes. Per usual, my daughter’s room was a mess. “Where do the trains go?” “Why are the doctor toys everywhere?” “Don’t let yours sister put that in her mouth!” Sounds from our daily cleanup scramble.
I pulled open a cupboard, just looking to cram a pile of books anywhere I could, and my eyes fell upon a single, solitary block. It was the fruit of a baby shower game nearly four years ago; guests had written messages and drew pictures on blank, wooden blocks. Simple as they are, those blocks are a real hit with both of my daughters.
Those particular blocks lived in a different room of the house, so I swapped it for my book pile and went to put it in my pocket. The handwriting, though, made me pause. Love you, baby, it read. Nana and Pop Pop.
It was penmanship I knew well – even scrawled across a tiny block – from years of birthday cards. I pursed my lips together, thoughtfully, glanced around the room. Is this a sign? Am I supposed to do something, see something, say something? What? My grandmother, whose handwriting that was, passed away last October.
I wonder how many people experience moments like this each and every day. You stumble upon a sudden reminder of a loved one – a photo tucked in an old book, a memory shaken loose by a scent or a turn of phrase, or maybe a message scrawled across a small, wooden block. The moment is so surprising, so unexpected, that we look up and around and assume the universe is trying to tell us something. We want that moment to mean something, to count for something, to help us do something.
That same temptation lurks in moments of consolation, moments when we can feel God holding us close; God’s compassionate love feels so near to us. We can practically see the Holy Spirit hovering just beyond our reach. We want to thrust out our hand and grab it, grasping at the moment as though we can hold it forever, dissect it and analyze it and make it count.
We know, though, that we have to open our hands, loosen our grip and simply allow these moments of grace to wash over us. Allow that consolation to fortify you, encourage you, inspire you. That’s just God loving us – loving you – and all you need to do is smile.
That’s what I did, finally, after a long moment, holding that wooden block in my hand. It was an unexpected grace. A mountaintop moment, the embrace of the Divine. Perhaps, too, the embrace of a grandmother.
God delights in us. We’re allowed to delight in God’s delight, pure and simple. Chaotic as life is, there are times when that’s all the moment calls for. We don’t need to do anything more.