In the Shadow of Grace

Every Christmas I get a book from my dad. He has a pretty good track record of buying books that speak to me at different times in my life, but occasionally I question his judgment. One book in particular, In the Shadow of Grace, has sat on my shelf untouched for 12 years. It wasn’t that I didn’t like it, I just couldn’t get into it.

For some reason, it was on my mind this morning. I kept repeating the title in my mind, “In the Shadow of Grace… In the Shadow of Grace…” So, after getting home from breakfast with my grandma, I took the book off the shelf and was struck by the following quote in the foreward from Toni Morrison’s book Paradise:

“Playing blind was to avoid the language God spoke in. He did not thunder instructions or whisper messages into ears. Oh, no. He was a liberating God: A teacher who taught you how to learn, to see for yourself. His signs were clear, abundantly so, if you stopped seeping in vanity’s soul juice and paid attention to His world.”

These heavy and illustrative words paint a beautiful picture in my mind: all that is around us, including the pain and the joy, is an opportunity to encounter grace and be free. I, for one, love the idea of grace, but only when it comes to other people. I do not extend the same amount of grace I give others to myself.

When I read the words of Morrison, “[stop] seeping in vanity’s soul juice and [pay] attention to His world,” I realize not giving myself grace is a form of vanity. It cheapens the grace I give to others because if it isn’t good enough for me, why would it be good enough for someone else?

Grace is not easy for me to accept. I would much rather face punishment. Fortunately, grace is liberation from myself and the prison I keep myself locked up in.

The fact I need grace reminds me of my humanity, frailty, and fallibility. My eyes open to the things of this world where I can make a difference and the clear signs from God become an intimate whisper of acceptance.