Opening To Grace
Lynne Elwinger, O.C.D.
It hardly seems possible that the seasons of Lent and of Spring have once again arrived in our part of the world, bringing us new life, new possibilities, and new experiences – a season of Grace. For me, Lent, like Spring, is a time of renewal and rebirth rather than a season of sackcloth and ashes. This doesn’t make it any less challenging, however. God calls to us, “Be open to Grace; allow it to permeate your daily life; let it do something new in you; pass it on.” The primary task of the Lenten season, as I see it, is that of making space for Grace. We are asked to pay attention to the gifts it brings and to allow it to work in our lives. Though this is something we should be doing all year long, the season of Lent carries a special message to renew this practice in our daily lives.
The Life Of God In Our Lives
God’s Grace is both purifying of and nourishing for our souls. It is an energy that flows over and around us, constantly working within us, awakening and calling our souls into a deeper relationship with the One who made us. Grace is the Life of God in our lives. It sustains our souls and acts as a catalyst for growth and transformation. God’s Grace is to us both an invitation to something “more”, and the path to follow to find it. Grace is a light to guide us. It is the power of God acting in our lives on our behalf. It reminds us that God is for us.
The warming sun and soft rains of springtime split open seeds so plant growth can begin. Similarly, Grace cracks open the coating that the routine of daily living can form around our souls, encouraging new soul-life to germinate and grow in the here and now of our everyday lives. This Grace is pure gift, like the sun and the rain, but as with any gift, it has to be taken in and used to be effective. Grace is always available to everyone in abundance, but we need to open ourselves to receive what it offers us.
When we allow God’s Grace into our lives, it circulates in our spiritual beings, our souls, in the same way that blood circulates in our bodies. The flow of Grace, though at a different level, nourishes and detoxifies. It carries the Divine Life to every soul part, as the blood carries oxygen to physical cells. Grace surrounds us in our external world as well, as invisible as the air we breathe. We usually notice it only indirectly, by its effects on ourselves or others around us. Just as our bodies were created with wonderful mechanisms to maintain and balance every system, so our souls have been given the means to receive and respond to Grace. For either system to work as originally designed, our cooperation is required.
The Landscapes Of Struggle
God’s Gracing energy comes to us in many forms. Though we generally think of Grace as bringing the positive to us, grace can also arise in aspects of our lives that seem challenging or difficult. Running through the landscapes of struggle, difficulty, sadness and confusions in our lives is the path of Grace. If seen and followed, it can bring us new insights and understandings, spiritual growth, and compassion for others. Grace can appear as a wake-up call or as a warning of hazards ahead. In the midst of hard times, we can easily forget that God’s Grace is still holding us up, leading us on and seeing us through it all. As Christians, we are called to welcome, give thanks for, and put to use this incredible gift. We can take comfort in knowing that God’s Life is upholding and embracing us, no matter what else is happening. Through Grace, God gets us over the bumps, teaches us all along the way, and in the end brings us Home to the place prepared for us from the beginning.
The Good News
This is the Good News we are asked to share! We are called to become instruments of Divine Grace for our troubled world within all the chaos and turmoil of our times. May our thirsting souls drink deeply from the springs of Divine Grace all year long, and invite other thirsty souls to join us there.
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