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Grace in Exile

I know grace, I feel grace, and I believe that there is grace in the midst of our current pandemic exile, but how to describe it and understand it?

Rabbi Karyn Kedar in The Dance of the Dolphin defines grace as “A moment in time in which you know that you are loved unconditionally by God and therefore are connected to the core of things. That there is no separation between you and all that is good and true.”

And, Phillip Gulley says, “By grace, I mean God’s unfailing commitment to love.”

I’ve also heard it referred to as the “hem of grace” possibly referring to the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ cloak and was healed. So, when we touch “the hem of grace” it has the potential to heal us.

Ted Loder says we are “haunted by grace.” Grace follows us and will not let us go. It seemingly appears out of nowhere, it stalks us, it shadows us, it is always there.

Grace is the moment your doubts vanish and you do what you know you have to do
Grace is the reaching out in compassion to someone who is hurting
Grace is the unexpected smile, or card, or hug, or flowers
Grace is when someone stands by your side for justice and peace
Grace is when you are alone, but feel like you are one with everything

Grace is an opportunity that wasn’t there before
Grace is a moment of peace
Grace is an insight into a higher truth
Grace is refusing to bend to peer pressure
Grace is laughter that lightens your heart
Grace is healing from our spiritual and emotional wounds
Grace is hope in the midst of dark days
Grace is patience when you are at your wits end
Grace is comfort and courage, acceptance and understanding
Grace is a second chance, or a third chance…


Grace is also an inner movement deep in our souls. Hear what Bill Grimol has to say in his book, Let Grace Be Your Guide:

Grace is ordinary. Grace is extraordinary. It is the miracle in the mundane. It is an act of forgiveness. The falling in love. The longing of the soul. The yearning for peace. It can be as quiet as a first snowfall, or as jaw dropping as the blaze of autumn…Grace is a wonderful guide. Grace never gives up. Grace never gets negative. Grace will not judge…. Grace leads us to be honest. Open and real. In touch. Sensitive. Insightful. Full of vision. Having a clear and conviction laden voice. Grace knows what matters, and what does not.

Multiple times lately I’ve heard people talking about how life, the racial struggles, the election, jobs, health, isolation, and so forth is getting them down. I feel it, too. And some days are worse than others. In the midst of all the struggles we need reminders that grace still exists, that God is still with us giving us strength and courage to go on.

Ted Loder tells the story of an Orthodox Jewish couple, Jason and Meredith, who were getting married. At the reception in the synagogue, Meredith’s father stood up to give them a story and a gift.

The story was of a Jewish family living in Amsterdam during World War II. At one point the Nazis knocked on the doors of all the Jewish people and demanded that they turn over their silver. One family gave them everything but four silver candlesticks. Shortly thereafter, that family was taken to the concentration camps. Only the father survived.

After the war, the father returned to his home only to find that it had been burned to the ground. As he was standing in the charred remains sobbing a neighbor came and told him that when it had happened they had thought that everything had been lost. But later when they dug through the ashes, they found four silver candlesticks, burned and twisted from the fire, but not destroyed. They had saved them for the family in case any of them ever returned. Standing there in the ruins, they gave the candlesticks back to the father.

Later, those candlesticks and their story were passed along until they were given to Meredith’s father. Now, at the beginning of a new marriage, standing in a synagogue that the Nazis would have preferred been wiped from the face of the earth, Meredith’s father passed on the candlesticks to the newlyweds. Loder wrote, “Twisted silver candlesticks carrying the light of God’s covenant with the Jewish people, and all of us, which the darkness of the Holocaust could not snuff out. Death could not, did not, cannot defeat God or the life God gives us.”

The passing on of those candlesticks provided a moment to remember the unfailing love of God, a moment to remember that we are all connected in a great chain down through the ages, a moment to remember that life can batter and bruise us, but we can still rise out of the ashes and carry light to the world. That is grace.

Grace is here. Grace is now. It haunts us and will not let us go. There is no moment when God is not with us, so there is no moment that does not bear the full potential of grace, the full potential of God’s unfailing love.

Love & Light!