Is it human nature to yearn for the past? To sit deep in the pool of nostalgia, wanting the world of yesterday to be our today reality? Do we reach for our rose colored glasses, wanting to see things as better than they are?
After spending a wonderful weekend in the coastal Redwoods for our All Church Camp, I am exhausted, but in the best way. I’m sure I will look at pictures of the weekend down the road and not remember the physical exhaustion plaguing me at the present. Three days full of ice cream, water rockets, playground fun and fort building, sharing meals and conversations with others, trying to sleep in one room together as a family, s’mores, stories, singing, amazing kid’s programs, countless folks entertaining and watching out for our kids, and wonderful times of worship and small group discussions.
The Rev. Peter Whitelock spoke to us this weekend, the pastor at Lafayette Orinda Presbyterian. So many thoughts to mull over as we looked at Philippians. But the one that has been sitting with me is the concept of grace. The fact that it seems “right” that Paul starts out this letter with “grace and peace to you….”. Yet, what is that grace that he is wishing for? What message, in the deepest sense, does Paul hope the Philippians get in their core? What are the implications for us?
Grace, receiving a gift we do not deserve, is so counter cultural. We are taught to strive, to earn, to reach for, to climb and seek the pinnacle, the peak. Not sure what everyone seems to think is hiding at the finish, but I often wrestle with this Grace. Some days I put on my rose colored glasses, other days it is tough for me to see “all is grace”. ALL is grace. Even when things are not perfect or easy or clear…..ALL is grace. Ann Voskamp shares this phrase in her book “One Thousand Gifts”. The ways that we can seek to see grace, and thus, God, even in the mess, pain and confusion.
Ann writes, “Everything is eucharisteo. Because eucharisteo is how Jesus, at the Last Supper, showed us to transfigure all things—take the pain that is given, give thanks for it, and transform it into a joy that fulfills all emptiness….This is the hard Eucharist. The hard discipline, to lean into the ugly and whisper thanks to transfigure it into beauty.”
Taking in the pain, suffering and emptiness and allowing God to transform it. Maybe it helps to physically dawn one’s rose colored glasses….not in an attempt to make light of the situation, but as a literal reminder of the decision it is to see that all is grace. The decision and choice it is to give thanks, even in the mess.
Music can speak to me so powerfully and this song, from an incredible album, Shaun Groves’ Third World Symphony, does just that. This interview and song express so much, even in their simplicity. Sometimes the simplest truths are the hardest to comprehend. Grace, in and of itself, isn’t too tricky to explain intellectually, but to truly LIVE in it, to comprehend the depth of it? Well, that understanding is a life long journey of stops, starts, attempts, forward steps and backward turns.
Even when we are told “no” and circumstances don’t unfold as we wish, all is truly grace. Maybe Drew’s tapped into this….look at his consistent visual response when told “no”:
I’m not of the mindset that we are to glibly smile when God says a clear “no” as we keep our hand attached to our own “yes”. But to allow the grace, the thanksgiving, to transform the situation.
Here’s the interview with Shaun Groves and Ann Voskamp which can hopefully convey all of this better than my words.