Amazing Grace

That was the headline in this Sunday’s newspaper–“Amazing Grace” with a picture of Pope Francis beneath it.

I know I haven’t posted in awhile and I’m so sorry.  Many of you know the grind of my schedule over the last year with my organization being acquired by a larger one.  Some of it was my schedule.  Some of it was my exhaustion.  Some of it was writer’s block and just plain not being motivated to post.  But, when I noticed that headline at the same time I watched Pope Francis on TV minister to prisoners outside of Philadelphia, well…let’s just say I was finally inspired out of my funk.

I’m not Catholic…never have been even though I’ve been to my share of Catholic masses over the years with friends.  I haven’t really even followed this Pope since he was named a little over two years ago.  I was only vaguely interested in his scheduled trip to America.  I didn’t really think it would have much impact on me.

For some reason, though, I started to tune in.  I started to follow the news coverage when he arrived in DC.  I read his speech to the joint houses of Congress.  I watched with awe when he arrived in New York City and St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  Finally, I tuned in Sunday and watched most of the day as he worked his magic in the City of Brotherly Love.

I used to think Pope John Paul II was a pretty cool dude…but this Pope…WOW!  I found myself inspired by his simple message of love.  He seems to teach from the heart like Jesus teaches.  He didn’t shy away from the tough messages but he delivered them from a foundation of love–love of this earth, love of our neighbors, love of God, love of each other.  The aura of compassion and grace that emanates from this man is palpable.

Yes, I know he’s the Pope…but he’s different than any of the ones I’ve witnessed before.  His humility, his kindness, his approachability, his “please pray for me,” make this man–I don’t know–just unconventional.  I read and later saw the story of the Keating’s from Elverson, PA and I wept.  For those who aren’t familiar, Pope Francis spotted the Keating’s young son, Michael, who suffers from a severe form of cerebral palsy, as the Pope’s Fiat drove away from his plane upon landing in Philadelphia.  Ordering the car to stop, the Pope got out walked over to the boy, put his hand on his head and kissed him as his sobbing mother looked on.  Mush.  I just turned to mush.

What a role model.  What an inspiration.  I found myself looking at people differently.  This little voice in my head kept saying as I came across people over the weekend, “The Pope loves you and that means God loves you, and therefore I love you.”  My heart was filled with mercy and compassion.  Things didn’t feel black or white and my tolerance and patience levels soared.  It was grace at work within me.

OK….now how do I keep that feeling of grace in place?  How do I transform to that being my default approach and not something that comes along as seldom as our recent “blood moon?”

Any and all ideas are welcome!

CATEGORY: All Posts, SWOG Moments, SWOG Stars

Beverly

Learning is my passion and life is my classroom of lessons I experience along the way.

Comments (10)

I find it very symbolic that today of all days, a day that my sister and spent together and spoke of our grandmother Grace for the first time in too long of a time, you decided to write your blog. The remembrance my sister and I recalled was not significant, but it seemed Grace was with us… she must have been for now I see your post and I’m brought to my “mush” point as well.

I wish I knew the answer to your question. I want to learn to look at people differently. Learn to exude love and not judgement. Learn how to provide forgiveness rather than be so quick to anger. Learn to live with tolerance for the shortcomings I so easily blame on others. The moments of living with grace are far too few for me. When you find your answer please pass it along.

Thank you for your post.

M.

Thank you, M, for your thoughtful post. Serendipity at work again, I see. Why am I not surprised? It’s amazing how connected we all are and it does my heart good to hear and see evidence of it at work in our lives. I will do my best to continue to share lessons learned both the hard and soft way…maybe in this journey we will continue to uncover the path to grace. Thanks again for your heartfelt comments.

Bev,

So great to hear from you! What a pope. He is truly an example of love and grace. How to keep the feelings of love and tolerance alive? Be with people who are different than you. I find that when I volunteer to be used by God, the response is swift and strong. The journey is wild and at breakneck speeds, but so much richer and more powerful than anything I could create on my own. I dare you! 🙂

Pam

Leave it to you, Pam, to do what Don Henley says…get to “the heart of the matter.” Thanks for putting that challenge out there! Tell us…how have you seen that manifest itself in your life? Give us an example, if you can do so and stil protect identities.

Bev,

We’ve been working with a mom for several years now. Her relationship with her son has turned 180 degrees. She has truly taken up the work of healing him. He was headed for disaster. Now, she has taken our Leader’s training and is beginning to teach in our Intensive Parenting Program. She cried and said, “I never thought I would be anybody, but now I am somebody”. Another woman, who has been a drug dealer and user began our program this summer. She was hard and angry, mistrustful and hopeless with a hard wall around her. She has softened and recently said to me, “I want to take this program 15 more times. Maybe I can teach like that woman”. After being court ordered to the program, she is now back voluntarily and is bringing her sister who needs lots of help. This journey is impacting lives in a way that would never be possible without the holy spirit. I feel God’s presence and grace everyday when I head out the door. So humbling and exciting to be part of his work.

It must be unspeakably rewarding to change people’s lives the way you do, Pam. And you’re not only changing those women’s lives, you’re changing their children’s lives and their grandchildren’s lives and generations to come. “Breaking generations of abuse and neglect.” Thank you for sharing those stories!

OK, I know I said I would read through the blog in order, but WOW! – this post caught my attention when I opened the site.
Isn’t this what we all seek? To stay connected to the people and the world around us with compassion and love? I believe that for each individual, and for each day that we live, there are a hundred different ways to live in that place of grace. Recalling that we are all one, that God loves each of us, that we are divine and important to this tapestry of life are some of the most gentle ways of bringing ourselves back to it. What is most important, to me, is that I bring myself back! Easy to say, tougher to do with a full schedule, the demands of parenthood and crumbling marriage.
Beautiful question, amazing introspection and personal transparency; thank you, Bev, for reminding of what it is to live in grace.

Hey I! Thanks for your comments and perspective. And please do not feel you have to read the blog posts in order. That was probably a silly suggestion anyway. Just dig into whatever hits you!! If you believe the premise that our beliefs/thoughts lead to our behaviors which then in turn lead to outcomes…it is SO important to bring ourselves back when our mind goes away from what’s really important about life. I find in day-to-day corporate America it is really easy to get caught up in stuff that really doesn’t matter. Betsy says it in her comments–our Western culture values some pretty silly nonsense and our media only serves to reinforce it all. That’s why I was so grateful for their coverage of the Pope. They were pretty comprehensive and positive in their approach.

What an eloquent post…thanks for sharing! I couldn’t agree with you more about the Pope. I so admire his humility, love and compassion. As to how to keep practicing tolerance and grace, isn’t that one of the big questions in life?! Our pastor ends every sermon with a charge that goes something like this: “Go out into the world in peace…give strength to the weak, voice to the oppressed…see one another, hear one another, love one another…it is as simple as that, and indeed very difficult.” I think it is a daily process of choosing to give up “self” and look to be available to God as an agent of his love. I also think it is helpful to have friends/a group that can encourage this kind of activity. It certainly isn’t what is lifted up and praised by our culture. But given the response to the Pope’s messages this past week, I do think people yearn for deeper purpose and more connectedness in their lives.

It was heartwarming to see the American melting pot and our collective reaction to the Pope. Again, I do realize it was a “three-city tour” but many people came from far away to get a glimpse or hear him speak. People were MOVED. Wouldn’t it be cool to do something like the “Ice Bucket Challenge” that took off so notably a year or two ago…but make it the “Grace” challenge? It would be so cool to capture that emotion that the Pope brought out in us and “pay it forward” in some way. Even as I type this though, that could be short-lived when what is important is sustainable change. Perhaps keeping the topic out there and fresh in our churches (like your pastor does), Sunday schools, classrooms, businesses, blogs, book clubs, friendship circles…maybe that could bring sustainable change. Food for thought.

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