Wednesday, August 08, 2007

A New Experience of Grace

I’ve had a strong sense in recent months of being immersed in grace. I’ve considered water images as a way of getting my thoughts around the idea of grace. The strong childhood memories of the small lake where I grew up are enduring images of the experience of being immersed in grace.

This morning, quite unexpectedly (but isn’t that the way it usually happens), I had a new experience of grace. I don’t think that it necessarily replaces the image of immersion. Instead I think this new image is for me the next meaningful step into an ever deepening experience of God’s abiding grace. As I sat in prayer this morning with a clarity and focus I haven’t had in quite some time, I felt as though I had become woven into God’s grace. It was an experience of warmth, comfort and belonging. It was an experience of grace that was no longer outside of me or some how distinct or separate from me. It was more than the experience of grace becoming a part of my life. Suddenly I felt, perhaps for the first conscious time, that I had become (or at least was becoming) part of God’s grace. Maybe there had been obstacles, unseen but formidable, that had prevented this experience earlier. Maybe that is how it’s always been, but I didn’t have the “eyes to see”. At the end of the day, the whys don’t matter.

As I’ve tried to unpack this image through the course of a busy day, the picture of a patchwork quilt came to mind. I could see my patch, the little piece that is my life, against the backdrop of the Great Quilt that is grace. My little piece, ragged around the edges, made of a unique piece of cloth with nothing particularly compelling to offer in color or design, woven into this incredible masterwork. My life, woven into the fabric of grace and God’s work in creation, is no longer separate from the great reality of grace. No longer is grace something that exists outside of my life, my spirit or my reality.

I think a fundamental shift in my mindset has taken place. No longer is grace an ego centered experience of God’s mercy, love, etc., etc. coming to me in a J.T. sized bite. By God’s astonishing (no longer merely amazing) grace, I have become part of a larger whole, a larger reality. I, with all of my raggedness, imperfections and ordinariness, have become drawn into, perhaps even created into, something that defies description.

This may be the first time that I’ve conceived of the notion that God has not been becoming part of me on this journey, but rather I am finding my place, my home and my identity in God.